Plants have evolved a remarkable range of adaptations for survival in different environments, ranging from desert to tropical ecosystems, high-altitude mountains, and conditions with altered light and gravity. In this course, we will explore the fascinating world of plant adaptations through site visits while traveling and through discussion-based lectures, readings, and seminars with plant biologists. Some topics that will be covered are plant physiological adaptations, such as water and nutrient use; morphological adaptations, such as root, leaf and stem structure; reproductive adaptations, such as pollination and seed dispersal; and genetic alterations, such as genetically modified plants and artificial selection. Current conservation efforts and the impact of human and animal interactions on plants will also be discussed while visiting various sites.

Students on this study tour can anticipate hiking in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to observe local plants and animals, kayaking through mangroves at the Indian River Lagoon, exploring the coastal ecosystem near Cocoa Beach, touring the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center and learning from plant biologists who have grown plants in space, exploring Epcot and taking a “behind the seeds” tour of their greenhouses, and visiting the Milwaukee Domes locally to compare desert and tropical plants. Students may also have the chance to observe alligators, migratory birds, dolphins, crabs, sting rays, and manatees in the wild.

See more information and apply for this course

This study tour fulfills the Scientific Explorations (SE) or the Non-Lab Science (NLAB) general education requirement.

Course code and title

Biology 200T: Plant Adaptations


Cocoa Beach and Orlando, Florida


Estimated travel dates

Jan. 15-24, 2024

Estimated costs


Information sessions

11:40 a.m. Thursday, April 13, David A. Straz Jr. Center 155