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Over the past 18 years, Dr. Florian Reyda has observed hundreds of animal species during field walks on his property in the Peruvian rainforest. But he’d never seen one particular species of poison dart frog—until biology student James Dewey spotted it on his first day in the field.
The discovery was especially exciting for Dewey, who had just completed a research paper on the Dendrobatidae family of frogs native to Central and South America. “To actually see something that I did research on in real life was really rewarding,” said Dewey, one of 16 Oneonta students who traveled to Peru this past summer for a 21-day tropical biology field course led by Dr. Reyda and Dr. Nigel Mann, faculty members in the SUNY Oneonta Biology Department.
During field activities on Dr. Reyda’s property, the students immersed themselves in tropical biology—from searching for invertebrate species, including finding more than 30 different beetle species in a day and a half, to identifying birdsong during field-walk pop quizzes. Often, the best discoveries occurred en route to a destination or while looking for something entirely different. “This is a course, and a journey,” said Reyda.
Photo caption: Senior James Dewey in Peru during a 21-day tropical biology field course. Photo courtesy of James Dewey.