Summer Abroad Program: Undergraduates study ecology and conservation in Australia and Ecuador

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:00:00 PM



By Rosalie Chapple, Barbara Murck, and Monika Havelka


The School of the Environment is pleased to offer enriching undergraduate field courses in the University of Toronto's Summer Abroad Program.  For more information, please visit www.summerabroad.utoronto.ca.

ENV 396 students enjoy beautiful views from Ubirr rock in World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park in the northern territory of Australia.
Photo: ENV 396 students enjoy beautiful views from Ubirr rock in World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park in the northern territory of Australia. (Courtesy of Rosalie Chapple.)


NEW:  ENV 396Y  Australian Environment, Wildlife and Conservation
June 21 - July 26, 2013

Summer 2013 Instructors: Rosalie Chapple of the Institute of Environmental Studies,
University of New South Wales
; Brad Nesbitt and Geoff Ross of New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Hosted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), this 5-week course was the first offering of U of T's Summer Abroad program in Australia, providing an unparalleled opportunity for 16 U of T students and 28 student from the U.S. to receive an introduction to Australia's environment and wildlife by local experts.

Starting in Darwin, at the "Top End" of Australia, it included a three-day camping expedition to the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park to experience its spectacular scenery and
its distinctive plants and animals. Students then journeyed to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park for three days spent exploring the ancient and dramatic landforms, flora and fauna of the area.  Weeks three and four were based at UNSW, located 20 minutes from downtown Sydney. While there, they went to a University field station north of Sydney where students immersed themselves in the bush and surveyed wildlife.  The course then moved to the tropical far north of Australia with a stay in the Daintree Rainforest, the only place in the world where reef meets rainforest. The course then concluded in Cairns, from where students explored the Great Barrier Reef.

For more information, please visit the Summer Abroad website above or contact Dr. Rosalie happle at r.chapple@bmwhi.org.au.

***
Photos LEFT: Lilly Woodbury and other ENV 395Y students climbing Chimborazo Volcano in the Andes. RIGHT: Students snorkelling at Kicker Rock in the Galápagos.    Photos LEFT: Lilly Woodbury and other ENV 395Y students climbing Chimborazo Volcano in the Andes. RIGHT: Students snorkelling at Kicker Rock in the Galápagos.
Photos: LEFT: Lilly Woodbury and other ENV 395Y students climbing Chimborazo Volcano in the Andes. RIGHT: Students snorkelling at Kicker Rock in the Galápagos.  (Courtesy of Sarah Latimer and Shuhong Luo.)


ENV 395Y  Ecology and Conservation in the Andes, Western Amazonia and the Galápagos
May 16 - June 16, 2013

Summer 2013 Instructors: Barbara Murck and Monika Havelka, Senior Lecturers, Department of Geography, U of T Mississauga.

This year was the eighth run for this field course and our second time as instructors.  This year's group of 28 students was different from last year's, but every bit as fantastic. What we did, saw, and learned together was the same, but different too.

The basic structure of the course hasn't changed: after a brief orientation at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), we have day tours of Quito and a visit to the Equator at Mitad del Mundo. Then the three main field segments of the course take us to the Andes, the Amazon, and the Galápagos islands.

But nature has its own way of doing things.  This year we missed seeing the giant armadillo, tapir, ocelot, and pygmy marmoset at Tiputini Biodiversity Station - but we made up for it with multiple sightings of pink freshwater dolphins, Brazilian wandering spiders, and howler monkeys. In the Galápagos, instead of hammerhead sharks again, we saw white-tipped reef sharks, huge schools of eagle rays, and breaching whales, in addition to the ubiquitous sea lions, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, sea turtles, blue-footed boobies, and penguins. And instead of only a few vicuñas (wild relative of llamas and alpacas) spotted from a distance last year in the Andes, we saw at least 40 of them in packs.

Next year the course will stay the same -- and it will be completely different.  We are looking forward to it already.

For more information, please contact the instructors at barbara.murck@utoronto.ca or monika.havelka@utoronto.ca.