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Ecology and Evolution of the Amazon Rainforest and the Galapàgos Islands

Tentative dates:

14 May - 14 June OR
2 July - 2 August, 2016

(Each trip requires a minimum of 8 participants)

Application deadline:07 December 2015

Facepainting in the Amazon Rainforest; Tiputini Biodiversity Station

Program Overview

All students are required to enroll in Biology 373.
These credits (4) will be applicable to the CSBSJU Biology Major upper division requirement (five upper division lab classes).
This course also has the EL flag (Experiential Learning) credits.
During our trip, there will be some traditional lecturing and testing
but most class work will be carried out in the field setting.
Students will write a scientific paper based on field research and
keep a journal of their experiences throughout the trip. 

Embark on a biological expedition to Ecuador, follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin,
and explore the Galapagos Islands - one of the world's most unique and historic ecosystems.

Program Description
Upon our arrival in Quito, we will familiarize ourselves with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) campus. An orientation and welcome lunch will welcome us to the country of Ecuador. The Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS), a department of USFQ, develops our trip in terms to our specifications.

Amazon Rainforest

  • Tiputini Biological Station (TBS) is a state-of-the-art remote field station that focuses on independent research and undergraduate learning. 
  • It is located on the northern edge of Ecuador's largest National Park, Yasuní.
  • Access to this research station is limited to undergraduates and researchers so very few people visit the site. 
  • The station has cabins with electricity, running water, toilets, and beds (all cabins are screened to prevent bug entry).After traveling to TBS by plane, boat and bus, we will explore the trails, looking for the 10 primate species that reside in this forest, tapirs, and jaguars. 
  • We will visit the canopy walk, which is a series of suspended bridges 150' in the forest canopy (all have been tested and retested for safety and each person must hook into an independent suspension system). 
  • Several activities will include a night boat journey to view caimans and perhaps a jaguar.
  • Indigenous guides will teach us about traditional medicine, animal tracking, and issues about oil extraction and conservation. 
  • Classes and schoolwork will be carried out in the air-conditioned library.

Galápagos Islands

  • After flying the 600 miles from Quito to the islands, we will spend our time visiting 3-5 islands.
  • Our studies/projects will focus on sea lion behavior, blue-footed booby ecology, intertidal ecosystems, geology and island hot spots, tortoise ecology and conservation, sea turtle ecology and conservation, among others.
  • Opportunities abound and will include: snorkeling with sea lions, sea turtles, hiking with land tortoises, and many others.
  • Class work will include traditional lectures, an independent, multi-day research study completed by each student, and field exploration related to topics introduced in the classroom.
  • Writing assignments will include maintaining a daily field journal and producing at least one scientifically-structured paper based on your independent research.

Squirrel Monkey, Tiputini Biodiversity Station

Snorkeling with Pacific green sea turtles, Isla Isabela

Program Costs

The estimated per student price is as follows:

  • a maximum of $1400 for RT airfare (MSP - UIO)

  • trip fees

  • associated miscellaneous costs ($6500)

  • cost of 4 credits at CSB/SJU (approximately $2800)

The final price will be confirmed with participants early in the spring semester as airfare is secured.  This price includes round internal flights (to Coca, Ecuador (rainforest) and Baltra, Ecuador (islands)), all accommodations during the program; local transportation; guides and all meals while at Tiputini Biodiversity Station, guides and breakfasts/lunches while in the islands and in Quito, guides, and admission costs to museums, and parks.

This year, we are opting to not include most dinners so that we can take advantage of the many wonderful restaurants found in Quito and the islands (if dinners are included, they are always at the same restaurant and the same food is always served - to be honest, it gets very boring). Therefore, students will be responsible for most dinners, personal spending money and any activities not included with the program.

This is one of the few international programs that allows credit to count as an upper division biology credit for graduation (Biology and Environmental Studies Majors).

Director: Professor Kristina Timmerman, Biology 

Program Resources