Curriculum Packets

In order to engage student groups in long-term educational and research projects and data sets, BFREE’s Education Committee created scientific curriculum packets. The goal has been to identify questions that are principal to BFREE’s mission – to conserve the biodiversity of Belize – and are amenable to the development of field activities and research for student groups.

The original two studies (Small Mammal Community Survey and the Fruit Phenology Study) utilize two comparison plots, a managed cacao plantation and an unmanaged forest habitat.  These studies strive to produce a better understanding of the ecological differences between cacao and unmanaged forest habitats. Because these projects are focused on the comparison of agroecosystems to natural habitats, they serve as a good example to students of the importance of integrating human needs and concerns in the disciplines of ecology and conservation biology.

Small Mammal Community Survey                     Fruit Phenology Study 

Lees-McRae students identify a small mammal

A tagged Gumbo Limbo tree in the cacao

Newer studies include the Leaf Cutter Ant Study and the River Study which were developed by University of Richmond professor, Amy Treonis. Her students did a trial run of both studies in the field during their 2017 course.  The River Study seeks to document important river changes over time while the Leaf Cutter Ant Study focuses on the foraging behavior of the leaf cutter ant, an insect that captures the attention of nearly every person who visits BFREE.

Leaf Cutter Ant Study                                      River Study

Leaf cutter ants moving at night

Map of Monkey River Watershed, showing potential study sites

University of Richmond students also created this Story Map to describe their various research and travel activities.

If you would like to contribute an idea for a packet or would like to replicate a project that was implemented in the past at BFREE or at another site, please email


Curriculum Packet Developers:

Sara Ash, University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky
Stewart Skeate, Lees-McRae College, North Carolina
Amy Treonis, University of Richmond, Virginia

Members of the Education Committee:

Peter Esselman – Committee Chair, USGS
Sara Ash, University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky
Stewart Skeate, Lees-McRae College, North Carolina
Maarten Vonhof,Western Michigan University
Mark Cline Lucey, Vermont Commons High School

Committee Contributors:

Jamie Rotenberg, UNC Wilmgton
Rob Klinger, USGS
Jacob Marlin, BFREE
Heather Barrett, BFREE

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