The course will introduce students to the social and ecological complexities of biodiversity conservation in tropical ecosystems. Students will engage in a variety of field methods from the biological and social sciences to evaluate the causes, consequences, and solutions to biodiversity loss through the lenses of ecology, culture, and governance.
The course takes place in the Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja Sonene National Park in the Department of Madre de Dios, Peru. The region has some of the highest recorded levels of biodiversity in the world, but it is vulnerable to many new threats, including extensive agriculture, gold mining, illegal logging, and land speculation associated with construction of an Inter-Oceanic Highway.
Students will explore a variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, visit local communities, organizations, and ecotourism lodges, and talk with conservation practitioners and scientists. Interdisciplinary teams of students will examine all sides of complex issues surrounding the region’s conservation challenges. Working in collaboration, students will gather ecological, social, and economic data relevant to a particular conservation concern.
This course confers 4 academic credits from Texas A&M through WFSC, RPTS, or VTPB.