Tropical Ecology Course

Field Techniques in Tropical Ecology Research


The forests of Indonesia are home to estimated 12% percent of the world’s mammal species, 16% of reptile and amphibian species, and 17% of bird species and are an immense store of greenhouse gases. This field course provides the unique opportunity for students to collaborate with scientists and contribute to conservation projects that are helping protect one of the most biologically rich ecosystems on our planet. We will discuss experimental designs for current projects and laboratory and statistical analysis necessary to interpret results. Students will learn field skills that may include line transect surveys, collecting orangutan hair samples from nests, using camera traps to estimate population size and density of elusive animals such as sun bears, participating in remote monitoring of clouded leopards, and studying the behavior of rare and endangered monkeys.


Throughout this course, students will also be introduced to principles of applied ecology through discussions, guest lectures and readings. Students will talk directly with local Dayak leaders, Wehea rangers, scientists, and NGO workers to gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of conservation and the cultural, economic and political factors that need to be considered. This course is for students interested in protecting the integrity of our world’s ecosystems and provides an essential foundation for students interested in a number of careers including applied ecology, primatology, zoology, and resource and environmental management.


Students in this course will live at the Wehea Forest research station, in the middle of Wehea Forest. From this base, students will spend their days in the forest conducting research, and may have the opportunity to spend a few nights at a remote forest outpost. Living conditions are basic, clean and comfortable and all meals are taken with the field school class. 


Course Syllabus: Tropical_Ecology_Syllabus.pdf


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