Tropical Ecology: From the Andes to the Amazon basin Winter 2024

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One of the most striking patterns in biogeography is the increasing level of species richness as one moves from the poles to the equator. As the name implies, Ecuador straddles the equator, but perhaps less well known is that Ecuador includes an altitudinal gradient that ranges from the high Andes (over 20,000 feet) to the Amazon basin. This combination of equatorial proximity and vertical relief has generated one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world – Ecuador is home to over 23 thousand species and makes up about 6% of the world’s diversity in an area approximately the size of Colorado. This course will include a 10-day trip to Ecuador where we will visit three distinct habitats – the p├íramo and Polylepis “forests” of the high Andes, mid-elevation tropical cloud forest, and lowland tropical rain forest. Through a combination of lectures, field trips, guest seminars, and independent exploration, this course will introduce students to the natural history and ongoing research taking place in these ecosystems. A typical day during our trip to Ecuador will involve a morning natural history hike, with opportunity for independent exploration in the afternoon. Evenings will involve either night hikes, or seminar presentations by resident researchers. During our trip, students will collect data for an independent project on self-selected topics that could include, for example, altitudinal gradients in hummingbird diversity, the pros and cons of ecotourism in Ecuador, or analysis of camera-trap data in the Amazon basin. Upon return to campus, students will complete their independent project analysis which they will use as the basis for a short report and final poster presentation.
The Class: Format: travel
Limit: 6
Expected: 6
Class#: 1075
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Short paper and final project or presentation.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: By interview with preference given to students that have taken BIOL 203
Materials/Lab Fee: $3,450
Attributes: TRVL Winter Study Travel Course

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