Our primary interest is to share our knowledge with people motivated to learn more about practical aspects of termite research in their natural habitats. This brings an important expectation to all participants, i.e. the ability to perform well in beautiful but somewhat hostile environment of primary rainforests, where heavy rain may temporarily interrupt the field work, where encounters with large spiders, scorpions, biting/stinging ants, assassin bugs and many other creatures take place at common basis, not speaking about skin-cutting lianas, spiny palm trees and some other painful surprises. Applicants must accept that we cannot ensure the full comfort especially in the forest, and also to take seriously possible hazards that are innate to the man-influence free areas. Although the tutors are aware of the risks (of which most come from negligence of safety recommendations, which will be the subject of the first lesson), participants must keep in mind that the forest is rather exciting and beautiful than dangerous.
Applicants can be at any stage of scientific career, from undergrad or PhD students to Postdoctorate researchers or scientists. Irrespectively of the degree, participants must follow the tutors’ recommendations in the forest, and at the same time, they have right not to participate at some activities at all if they wish. Participants should show a strong interest into social insect research and particularly in termites.
Applicants must be able to perform in tropical environment. The temperatures in the forests in general do not exceed +30°C, and do not drop under +23°C, however, the temperatures are much higher at the station during the day due to direct sun exposure. At the same time, the more theoretical parts (taxonomy, behaviour, chemical ecology etc.) will take place in air-conditioned laboratories.
Participants must be aware that large part of the course will take place in Neotropical primary forest, which is by nature not devoid of risks. Surprisingly, the biggest risk doesn’t come from neither venomous animals (pit viper Bothrops atrox, thick-tailed scorpion Tityus sp. etc.) nor from falling trees (known as the most common cause of death in tropical forests), but from the people itself. This is why the course will start by a course of occupational safety during the fieldworks, in order to minimise the probability of injuries with machete, falling wood items or termite nests etc. None of the course leaders or their crew ever experienced life-threatening disease or injury, and all wounds were caused exclusively by a lack of attention. French Guiana is anyway the richest and safest part of South America, and eventual injuries will be treated with proper care in Kourou hospital with permanent emergency.