Fall Break in Ecuador:
Tropical Field Studies
This unique field study course gives students hands-on experience in the ecology of tropical rain forests. Tropical Field Studies will explore the physical and biological factors that result in the formation of these forests, and their impressively high biodiversity. We will be based in a global biodiversity hot-spot in eastern Ecuador (Amazon basin), with a short visit to beautiful cloud forest in the Andes mountains. Students will explore some of the key animal and plant players in these ecosystems and their complex interactions. Students will also consider the effect of human impacts on these forests, and how development processes affect local communities. Teaching methods will include faculty and guest lectures by local experts, immersive hands-on field teaching modules, and research papers.
By completing this Intensive Course Abroad, students will:
- Gain a first-hand experiential understanding of the environmental factors that contribute to the formation of tropical forests and the ecological principles that govern their function.
- Obtain knowledge of tropical ecology through field studies in tropical forests.
- Develop an understanding of the challenges faced by tropical forest managers in light of modern development pressures.
- Develop the student’s awareness of the increasing threat to the world’s biodiversity due to ongoing destruction of the tropical forests.
Credit/Registration: Students will be registered for ENVS 323 or ENVS 523 Tropical Field Studies 3 credits as part of their fall term course load. Students must leave room for the 3 credits in their fall credit load when registering for spring term, or will be billed for credits exceeding the 20 credit maximum. Graduate students will be billed for 3 Drexel credits at their normal rate.
Instructor: Sean O'Donnell, Professor in Drexel's Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science
Arrival Date: September 5, 2020
Departure Date: September 20, 2020
*Students may extend their travel independently before or after program dates.
Itinerary Overview: Daytime and night time field trips and observation periods
Sat Sept 5 Fly to Quito
Evening at Posada Mirolindo hotel
This superb boutique hotel is in a quiet neighborhood near the Quito airport, and features organic gardens and grazing llamas and lambs on the grounds.
Sun Sept 6 Day in Quito - tourism/acclimation
We will explore the Old City section of Quito, founded in the early 1500s. Amazing culture and architecture abound. A World Heritage site.
Evening at Posada Mirolindo, near airport
Mon Sept 7 Early AM fly to Coca; travel to Tiputini Station
A long but exciting travel day- fly over the Andes and several volcanoes and land in the steamy lowlands. Boat ride on the huge Napo River, shuttle through Yasuni Park, smaller boat on the Tiputini River, and arrive at the station in late afternoon. Will we see a jaguar from the boat?
Tue Sept 8 to Sun Sept 13 At Tiputini Station
Our days at this mega-biodiversity research station will be rich in tropical lowland biology.
Activities will include lecture-hikes, student group field projects, float trip on the river, canoeing an oxbow lake, visits to the forest canopy tower and to animal-loved salt licks, and night hikes. 10 species of monkeys, hundreds of bird and tree species, amazing amphibian diversity, army ants… One of the biologically richest spots on the planet.
Mon Sept 14 Early AM leave Tiputini; noon meet shuttle (Driver: Luis) in Coca, travel to San Isidro Lodge near Baeza
The beautiful shuttle drive part-way up the Andes to this mid-elevation site will cross several ecological life zones. We will explore mid-elevation forest at this comfortable lodge, thinking about how local climate shapes the forest and its residents.
Tue Sept 15 At San Isidro Lodge
Wed Sept 16 Afternoon shuttle to Guango Lodge
More amazing Andean scenery on the shuttle to this high-elevation (cloud forest) lodge, where we will learn about montane forest ecology and hummingbird biology.
Thu Sept 17 At Guango Lodge
Fri Sep 18 Day trip to Papallacta hot springs
We will warm ourselves in mineral waters of varying temperatures, surrounded by gardens and the Andes mountains.
Sat Sep 19 Afternoon shuttle to Posada Mirolindo
We will stop at a very high elevation site (surprisingly cold and windy), examining pincushion plants and searching for the elusive Seedsnipe.
Sun Sept 20 Depart for US
Due May 1st: $500 Advance Payment + $25 application fee
Due July 1st: $1,870 Final Payment
*All payments are non-refundable unless declined admission or program cancels for unforeseen reasons.
Included in Program Fee:
- 14 nights lodging
- All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Local ground and boat transportation
- In-country flight
- Park entrance fees
- Field supplies
- Cultural activity
- On Call Emergency Assistance insurance
Not Included in Program Fee (estimated):
- R/T airfare to Ecuador (approx $800)
- Passport ($135)
- Meals on arrival/departure days ($30)
- Course materials ($20)
- Spending money ($100)
- Mandatory Yellow Fever Vaccine ($150-$300)
- Taxi to/from Quito Hotel ($40)
- Normal Drexel Tuition. Graduate students billed for 3 Drexel credits.
- US Citizens are not required to obtain a visa for entry to Ecuador. Students of other nationalities should confirm visa requirements on the Ecuador Embassy website.
- Students will be responsible for making their own flight arrangements. A suggested flight itinerary will be provided. Students should arrive as early as possible on Day 1 of the program, as the scheduled activities begin that day.