2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Biodiversity Studies in Argentina

Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Erik Thuesen biology, marine science
Fields of Study
botany, ecology, field studies, language studies, marine science, natural history, study abroad and zoology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
biodiversity, conservation, field biology, Latin American studies, natural history and Spanish language.
One year of college-level Spanish language studies and previous academic work in natural history and/or environmental science is required.

In the 19th century, well-known European scientists such as Darwin, d'Orbigny and Bonpland traveled in Argentina and brought their knowledge of the flora and fauna back to Europe. The marine, desert and alpine environments of the Southern Cone harbor flora and fauna very different from similar environments in North America. In this two-quarter program, we carry out intensive natural history studies of the unique organisms and ecosystems of Argentina, focusing on those of Patagonia.

After an introductory week in Olympia at the start of fall quarter, the study abroad portion of the program will commence with a 4-week intensive study of Spanish language in Buenos Aires to prepare us for our travels and studies in Argentina during fall and winter quarters. We will begin to study the flora and fauna of the Southern Cone through preliminary readings, lectures and class work in Buenos Aires. We will take a short trip to the sub-tropical province of Misiones during October, then move to the coastal and mountain regions of Patagonia in November. We will study the natural history of Patagonia, beginning with field studies on the Atlantic coast and then moving to the Andean Lakes District, taking advantage of the progressively warmer weather of the austral spring.

Students will conduct formal field exercises and keep field notebooks detailing their work and observations. We will read primary literature articles related to the biodiversity of Argentina and augment our field studies with seminars.

During winter quarter (summer in the southern hemisphere), students will reinforce their language skills with two weeks of intensive Spanish studies in Patagonia, examine montane and steppe habitats, then work in small groups on focused projects examining biodiversity topics. It will be possible to conduct more focused studies on specific ecosystems or organisms, including those in more southern parts of Patagonia, at this time of the year. Clear project goals, reading lists, timelines, etc., will be developed during fall quarter in order to insure successful projects in winter quarter. Examples of individual/small-group projects include: comparisons of plant/animal biodiversity between coastal, desert and alpine zones; comparative studies of the impacts of ecotourism activities on biodiversity; or examining community composition of intertidal habitats along a gradient from north to south, among others.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Study Abroad
The Student Fee for this program will be $5100. This will cover lodging in Argentina for both fall and winter quarters except for 4 weeks in winter while students are conducting projects. It will cover 50% of food expenses, the majority of in-country transportation expenses and language training in fall and winter. The Student Fee does not cover international airfare (approx. $1300), short distance local transportation, and lodging/food/travel/homestay during winter break (optional) and while students are conducting projects. Additional costs are estimated to total approximately $3100. The total estimated costs for this two-quarter program (including expenses incurred over Thanksgiving and Winter breaks) for food, lodging, transportation, Spanish Language instruction and fieldwork activities (guides, excursions, national park fees, museum fees, etc.) is $8200. Because of the low cost of living and traveling in Latin America compared to the high cost of Olympia, the costs of participating in this two-quarter program will be roughly the same as living in Olympia. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is due by August 10, 2012. Final payment deadline is September 14, 2012.
Upper Division Science Credit
Upper-division science credit is possible for the science sections of the program and will be arranged with faculty on a case-by-case basis.
Offered During