The Argentina Project: Preserving Wildlife and Ecosystems

Meeting Location              Trelew, Argentina
 Program Dates         Fall 2017: October 3 - November 16, 2017
 Accommodations    Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge
 Language    English instruction
 Courses    ESCI 497 T, U, V
 Credits    15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits
 Prerequisites    One college level course of ecology or similar           
   18 years of age

            Argentina Program Costs, Fall 2017
 $  150      Application Fee
            $4150      Program Fee
            $2750      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1750      Estimated Airfare/Visa
            $1000      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 
            $9800      Total Estimated Cost

            Fall 2017: Program fees due by August 1, 2017  





The Patagonia region in Argentina remains one of the most remarkable landscapes on earth. It represents an area with a high diversity of endemic species inhabiting a wide variety of ecosystems, from coastal habitats and Patagonian steppe near the Atlantic Ocean, to temperate forest and ice-capped peaks of the Andes. We will examine how these landscapes and their inhabitants have been shaped by historical and present-day climate change and the role humans have played in wildlife and ecosystem extirpation, alteration, and conservation. Argentina-print-sketchKey wildlife in the region include whales, penguins, sea lions, elephant seals, rheas, guanacos, Andean condors, monkey puzzle trees, and hundreds of species of birds and flowers. It is also a region with a long history of human activity, from the Tehuelche people who roamed the steppes for thousands of years, to the recent and intense impacts of sheep ranching, to indigenous Mapuche communities that still strive to live sustainably in remnant Araucaria forests. We will investigate conservation and management strategies utilized to protect both populations of native species and people, as well as the effect of introduced species and land use practices on native ecosystems. Through discussions, careful observation, and field studies, we will come to understand the complex relationships among people, wildlife, and the ecosystems of southern Argentina.


Throughout this program we will research a number of ecosystems, including coastal and marine systems, Patagonian grassland steppe, and temperate forests of the Southern Andes. We will immerse ourselves with the physical and ecological setting of the Patagonian Andes and gain knowledge about the climate, geography, plants, and animals of the region via readings, lectures, and field-based activities.

Our field studies will begin at the Península Valdes on the Atlantic coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a globally significant wildlife reserve, where we will examine the diverse and abundant marine mammals and coastal birds. We will conduct our studies in both the coastal region and the adjacent Patagonian steppe. Here we will learn and implement a wide array of field techniques in environmental ecology. We will also examine how mining, sheep ranching and other human activities have influenced the landscape and how community based decision making and management strategies are being used to prevent or reverse these impacts.

Argentina-student-holding-whale-vertebraeWe will then traverse the grassland steppe to Argentina’s unique national and regional parks within the Andes. We will establish front-country camps and backpack to remote sites to conduct our field studies. We will hone our identification skills of both native and invasive flora and fauna. Through readings, group discussions, guest lectures, and field-based projects we will examine the natural history, impacts, and current management of this region. At the end of the program we will take part in ongoing local research on forest management strategies that attempt to reconcile perspectives and interests of indigenous communities with national interests.

Our Patagonian field studies will give us firsthand experience on the interactions among humans, wildlife, and the environment in a region that contains immense wilderness yet faces the pressures of a growing human population, a growing economy, and the associated increased demands on natural resources.


Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, 2014
Beatriz is an ecologist from Argentina with research interests in species interactions, biodiversity, and conservation biology. Her Ph.D. research focused on the interactions of leafcutter ants and plants in a remote desert ecosystem of Argentina. She has taught several courses in ecology and conservation biology at Buenos Aires University and has led our Argentina Project since 2014.