- ABS Learning Plan Template (doc)
The Applied Biodiversity Science Learning Path
The ABS-IGERT students follow an integrated learning path that addresses the three pillars of Applied Biodiversity Science. Each stage includes key integrative features designed to link the training, research, and conservation pillars. Broader impacts such as international capacity building, minority involvement, and incorporation of undergraduate researchers are natural outcomes. In schematic below, columns correspond to years in a 4-year program, recognizing that because of international field work, individual students may alter their semester schedules.
Click on the links below to scroll down to descriptions of the various program elements.
- ABS Core Courses
- ABS Amazon Field Course
- Research Site Visits
- Cross-cultural Training Workshops and Seminars
- Internships at Institutions Practicing Biodiversity Conservation
- Ecological Integration Symposium
- ABS Seminar Series
- ABS Journal Club
ABS Core Courses
Applied Biodiversity Science I
Description: Efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity must be based on integration between science and practice. Linking theory with real-world conservation requires the engagement of many different kinds of actors, including biologists and social scientists, universities and museums, governments and nongovernmental organizations, industries, interest groups, and communities. Such collaboration is critical for establishing conservation priorities, developing ecologically and socially acceptable management plans, building local capacity for stewardship, and guiding effective policy. Currently, a great deal of conservation research is based in universities with few linkages between scientists and practitioners, or between theory and practical strategies for conservation. Moreover, research on patterns and processes that underlie the loss of biodiversity are often conceptual and discipline specific, with few lessons shared among researchers from diverse disciplines.
Our goal in this course is to build cross-disciplinary understanding of biodiversity science. We ask:
- What is biodiversity? How is it perceived, valued, measured, monitored, and protected?
- What are various strategies for protecting biodiversity while also meeting human needs?
- What are current perspectives from evolutionary and community ecology, conservation biology, environmental anthropology, political ecology, and ecological economics?
- What can we learn from case studies, and what is the role of science for building more effective on-the-ground strategies?
Applied Biodiversity Science II
Description: In this course students will:
- examine linkages between varying forms of governance and biodiversity;
- analyze interactions between social systems and ecosystems at local, regional, and international scales;
- identify the interests and needs of diverse stakeholders in conservation programs; and
- critically evaluate social, economic, and environmental trade-offs of various conservation strategies.
ABS Amazon Field Course
ABS-IGERT faculty lead a three-week Amazon Field Course in the Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja Sonene National Park in Madre de Dios, Peru, during the first year for each cohort. Logistics will be coordinated with Rainforest Expeditions. Objectives of the course are to:
- provide direct, experiential learning in ABS concepts and principles
- engage ABS students in projects representing ABS research themes
- teach field research methods
- connect ABS students with local organizations and practitioners
Research Site Visits
ABS students visit future dissertation field sites following the ABS Amazon Field Course. Site visits are justified by the need for students to initiate collaborations, obtain research permits, establish rapport with locals, understand logistical constraints of their field sites, and begin data collection. In most cases, study sites will be areas where mentors are currently working so that students can build upon mentors’ programs. Our network of Latin American colleagues ensures that students will be taking advantage of contacts already in place, enabling them to choose appropriate study sites and address locally relevant and critical research topics. Faculty will work with local collaborators to secure in-kind support for students.
Cross-cultural Training Workshops and Seminars
Leadership is necessary to link the three pillars of ABS: multidisciplinary science, collaboration with multilevel institutions and actors, and the achievement of broader impacts for conservation. That is, biodiversity scientists must learn the skills of leadership to make theory and strategies work effectively among a variety of institutions, actors, and ideas (Cannon et al. 1996). The objective of the Cross-cultural Leadership Training is to develop leadership skills of ABS students to enable them to fulfill leading roles in national and international conservation organizations and institutions of higher learning. ABS students will be trained to open channels of communication, find commonalities, bridge divisions, and broker solutions for more effective biodiversity conservation. Leadership Training is composed of workshops and conferences, as described below:
- Self-Leadership and Direct-Leadership Workshops
- Executive Leadership Workshop
- Partners Research Conferences
- Multicultural Leaders and Scholars Academy
Internships at Institutions Practicing Biodiversity Conservation
Our extensive network in the study areas ensures multiple opportunities for internships and professional development experiences. In addition to their dissertation research projects, ABS students will obtain professional development experience at an institution in the country where they are doing research. Internships will last at least four weeks. Project collaborators will pledge in-kind support and opportunities for internships, and students will build on their mentors’ collaborations. Fitzgerald, for example, will introduce students to partners working on sustainable use of wildlife and community-based conservation in the Chaco Ecoregion in Paraguay and Bolivia where he has worked for 25 years. Lacher and Winemiller will facilitate partnering for students working on research questions related to conservation prioritization through the CABS network of biodiversity monitoring field stations in Mexico, Amazonia, and Mesoamerica. Stronza’s long-term study sites and network of colleagues in the Western Amazon will be available for students testing hypotheses about outcomes of community-based approaches to biodiversity conservation. The Center for Applied Biodiversity Sciences (CABS) and other units at Conservation International will provide professional development experiences to ABS students through internships and participation in ongoing projects, giving them real-world experience in a conservation NGO based in the USA. Internships strengthen both the students’ doctoral research and the ABS-IGERT by broadening the pool of students who may apply to ABS-IGERT and by potentially employing graduates of the program
*Internship opportunities in the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International (pdf )*
Ecological Integration Symposium
Now in its tenth year, graduate students, with support from the interdisciplinary research program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, invite prestigious speakers for a one-day lecture series organized around a cutting edge theme in evolutionary ecology and conservation. Graduate students raise >$20,000 annually from departments and colleges for this event. The symposium has raised the bar for ecologically-based science at TAMU, and has resulted in tangible benefits for students who get a chance to interact with the speakers. ABS students will be involved in the organizing committee of this nationally recognized event.
ABS Seminar Series
The ABS Program sponsors a speaker series each semester that features practitioners and scholars in the field of conservation science from Texas A&M or invited from other institutions. As part of the series, we also organize Cross-Pollination Workshops that provide an open forum for ABS faculty and students to showcase their research and receive feedback from multidisciplinary perspectives.
ABS Journal Club
The ABS Journal Club provides the program’s faculty and students the opportunity to read and discuss the most recent and relevant journal articles in the field of conservation science. The club is co-directed by a group of faculty and students who each week chose the articles to be discussed from a broad array of multidisciplinary journals.
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