Tropical Ecology


Opportunities at the Aula Global Biological Reserve:

Facilities for Self-Directed Research
Year Round

Many research projects are possible at Aula Global, and we are open to your suggestions. Past projects by motivated students include amphibian identification, distribution, fungal infection and mortality rates, and the effects of climate change upon reserve amphibians. Other topics include bird migration patterns, climate change and its impacts on plant distribution throughout the reserve elevations, orchid identification, and hummingbird pollination impacts on flowering trees and flowers. The profusion of butterflies, moths and other insects found throughout the reserve offer endless opportunity for unique research topics.

Aula Global’s remote location is the perfect location for self directed students to create and obtain results in a pristine and wild tropical forest setting. Participants must be comfortable with spending many days and nights alone or with few students in a rustic setting. The reserve infrastructure is rustic but fully functional with clean running water, propane cook stove, gray water and composting toilet and large research station with excellent views of river valleys and forested ridges.  The possibilities are numerous for those wishing to apply their skills and knowledge in a tropical forest. Let us know how we can assist you.


Cats and Tropical Ecology Volunteerships
Session 1: April 12th – 19th, 2014
Session 2: April 20th – 26th, 2014

Volunteer field assistants are needed for tropical rain forest studies within a remote private biological reserve located in the mountainous regions of Costa Rica. Beginning April 12, 2014, The Global Classroom will be conducting scientific studies focusing on documenting the movement and population density of endemic cats (jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay) within the reserve, using animal tracking techniques, photography, track pads and camera traps.

Secondary work projects within our private biological reserve range from bird, mammal and reptile census to canopy exploration requiring technical climbing equipment. Founded in 2001, the Aula Global reserve is off limits to the general public. It spans five ecological zones and contains old growth and secondary forest as well as streams and open areas, making it an excellent location for a wide range of studies.

No previous rain forest experience is necessary, but field assistants must be motivated, self directed and prepared for off trail hiking in rugged, wet conditions. Participants may be asked to carry 15-20 kg loads short distances as all food and equipment must be carried into the research station due to no road access.

Research sessions run in one week sessions starting April 12 to April 19, with a second session starting April 20 to April 26. Interns are welcome to stay for both sessions if they wish. Cost is $400 per week and includes transportation from Monteverde* to Aula Global reserve, all food and lodging within the reserve, all technical equipment / canopy climbing safety training, animal tracking and other related workshops. A $200 deposit is required to save your space.

*We can also assist you with the necessary logistics needed to get you to Monteverde from the airport once your flight arrives in San Jose.

To apply or for additional information please contact both Colin Garland at: AND Kathy Leone at:

The Global Classroom and Aula Global volunteer and internship project connects people with some of the wildest, unspoiled tropical forests left in Costa Rica. Aula Global reserve is not open to the general public so human activity within the reserve is at a minimum, allowing students the unique opportunity to study unencumbered by tourist activity and restrictions placed upon many researchers studying in public reserves.

Our eco-friendly research station, dormitory and composting toilet/gray water system are conveniently located within the reserve, allowing easy access to the forest at all hours of the day and night. Night walks reveal a new collection of species not observed in the daylight hours, opening up entirely new avenues for research.  Many new and unidentified species have been documented within our boundaries, and many more await discovery.  Over 200 species of bird have been identified from the front porch alone!

Mammals seen at the reserve include howler and white- faced monkeys, tayra, peccary and armadillo to name a few. The reserve boasts 5 species of cat consisting of jaguar, puma, marguay, ocelot and jaguarundi. It is possible the illusive oncillo is also present though we have yet to confirm this. An ongoing study is underway using camera traps as well as terrestrial tracking and audio recordings. In 2009 and 2010, a bare necked umbrella bird female was witnessed constructing a nest within the reserve. Until this date, the nesting habits, egg color and number and other nesting details were unknown and un-described in avian literature.



Visit our gallery to view photos of our volunteer and internship program at Aula Global!


History of the Aula Global Biological Reserve

In 1992, the non-profit environmental organization Global Classroom began a fundraising campaign to purchase and protect over 700 acres of rain forest along the continental divide of Costa Rica. After years of dedicated work from volunteers across the globe, the Aula Global biological reserve and corridor was created in 2001. It spans five ecological zones, encompassing virgin rainforest, clear running streams and rugged mountainous terrain.  A walk up through though the reserve corridor will take you through small patches of regenerating pastures into wild, virgin acres of unexplored pre-montane wet forests that slowly transition into the infamous cloud forests that make Costa Rica so biologically unique and diverse, making it an excellent location for a wide range of studies.  For more information on the history and creation of the Aula Global Biological Reserve please visit the Global Classroom website here.



Do I need shots to enter Costa Rica?
No.  It’s always advised when traveling internationally to have tetanus and hepatitis shots but it is not critical for Costa Rica.  We have guided hundreds of students and adults to Costa Rica for over 20 years with not one case of dysentery, malaria, or other serious travel illnesses.

What do I need to bring?
Please click here to view a copy of our Costa Rica packing list.

What if there is a medical emergency?
Raven Adventures staff is trained and certified in advanced wilderness medicine and rescue.  Costa Rica also has a well developed Red Cross system, public and private clinics, and hospitals located through out the country.  It’s always advised when traveling internationally to purchase trip cancellation and emergency medical and evacuation insurance.  We can assist you with this if you like.  Most policies can be purchased for under $100 USD.

Will I be able to contact family and friends at home while I am traveling?
You will have access to internet cafes and pay phones in Monteverde both of which are very reasonably priced.  Once at the reserve you will not have internet or phone access.


Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding the Aula Global Biological Reserve or the opportunities we offer, please contact both Colin Garland: AND Kathy Leone: