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Tropical Ecology class to take trip to Belize

JACKSON, Tenn.April 18, 2001 – Twelve students and three graduates and area teachers from the Union University biology department will be traveling to Belize, South America, June 8 –20 as part of a tropical ecology course.

International Zoological Expeditions will provide the trip with personnel, services and facilities. The company has been providing educational services in Belize for years and several sites owned by IZE have been declared "World Heritage Sites" by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The group will be spending a total of thirteen days in Belize. The first four days will be spent at the Blue Creek Rainforest Station, an unspoiled area of primary rain forest. While at this site the students will take a guided tour of the rain forest, examine rain forest organisms, visit the forest canopy via a rope walkway 80-100 feet above the ground, explore caves, and visit existing Mayan villages. After visiting present-day Mayan villages, a day will be spent exploring Lamanai, a set of prehistoric Mayan ruins in northern Belize.

Four days will be spent studying marine ecology at a marine station on South Water Caye, an island in the Caribbean, offshore from Belize. Here the students will study island ecology, explore a coral reef, and visit a Smithsonian marine research facility.

"It is my hope that students will gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the most complex and endangered ecosystems: tropical rain forest," says Union University biology professor Michael McMahan. "By first hand experiences in the field, students will gain information regarding such subjects as climate, biodiversity, and human influences on the environment.”

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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