Biodiversity Studies in Argentina

Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters

Taught by

marine science, zoology, ecophysiology

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 are very different from similar environments in North America. In this two-quarter program, we will 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 four-week intensive study of Spanish language in Buenos Aires, which will prepare us for our travels and studies in Argentina during fall and winter quarters.

We will read primary literature articles related to the biodiversity of Argentina, and each student will be responsible for presenting different topics during weekly seminars. We will begin to study the flora and fauna of the Southern Cone through preliminary readings, lectures, and classwork in Buenos Aires. We will take a short trip to the subtropical province of Misiones, then move to the coastal and mountain regions of Patagonia where we will study the area's natural history, 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.

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 habitats, and then work in small groups on focused projects examining topics of biodiversity. It will be possible to conduct more focused studies on specific ecosystems or organisms, including those of southern parts of Patagonia. Clear project goals, reading lists, timelines, etc., will be developed during fall quarter in order to ensure 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 on the impacts of ecotourism activities on biodiversity; and examining community composition of intertidal habitats along a gradient from north to south, among others.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

field biology, conservation, and Latin American studies.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Study Abroad

Students will leave for Argentina at the end of week one in fall. The student fee for this program will be $5,850. This will cover lodging in Argentina for both fall and winter quarters, except for four weeks in winter while students are conducting projects. It will cover 50 percent 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 (currently about $1,250 RT), short-distance local transportation, and lodging/food/travel/homestay during breaks and while students are conducting small-group projects.The additional costs are estimated total approximately $3,100. 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 (excursions, national park fees, museum fees, etc.) is $8,950. 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 nonrefundable deposit of $600 is due by August 1, 2015. Final payment deadline is September 10, 2015. For details on study abroad, visit or contact Michael Clifthorne at .

Upper Division Science Credit

Up to 24 upper division science credits may be earned in this program.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 20


Signature Required

Students must complete an application survey available at . Applications received by the Academic Fair, May 13, 2015, will be given priority. Qualified students will be accepted until the program fills.

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10041

Go to to register for this program.


Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 20017

Go to to register for this program.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.