The Chile Project: Patagonia Ecosystems

Meeting Location              Puerto Montt, Chile
 Program Dates        Winter 2018: January 11 - February 24, 2018
   Winter 2019: 
January 10 - February 23, 2019
 Accommodations    Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge
 Language    English instruction
 Courses    ESCI 437A, ESCI 437B, ESCI 437C
 Credits    15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits
 Prerequisites    One college level course of ecology or similar           
   18 years of age


         Chile Program Costs, Winter 2018
      $  150      Application Fee
         $4150      Program Fee
         $2750      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
         $1600      Estimated Airfare/Visa
      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 
         $9650      Total Estimated Cost

         Winter 2018: 
Program fees due by November 1, 2017

         Chile Program Costs, Winter 2019
 $  150       Application Fee
         $5500       Program Fee
         $2900       Estimated In-Country Group Fee
         $1600       Estimated Airfare/Visa
         $1000       Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 
         $11,150  Total Estimated Cost

         Winter 2019: Program fees due by November 1, 2018      

  australia sunset 


The vast landscape of fjords, glaciers, and ancient forests of southern Chile were one of the last places in the world to be explored and remain one of the most pristine on earth. In this program team members will take part in unique firsthand investigations of Patagonia’s diverse ecosystems, the species they support, the people who depend on them, and current conservation efforts in a region experiencing the pressures of rapid economic growth. We will immerse ourselves in the fascinating natural history and biogeography of Patagonia, where some species remain little changed since the breakup of Gondwana 200 million years ago. We will gain personal familiarity with the ecological diversity of southern Chile, ranging from vast mountain ice fields to grassy steppes and diverse coastal temperate rainforests. Together we will explore national parks, privately owned protected areas, and unprotected wildlands in southern Chile to study the ecology, conservation, and management of ecosystems and threatened wildlife populations. Through extensive field studies and information exchanges with land managers, conservation practitioners, scientists, and local community members, we will examine on-site the intertwined scientific, cultural, and management dimensions, as well as the global economic forces, shaping conservation strategies in Chile today.


Team members will take part in hands-on investigations of the ecology and conservation of southern Chile’s species and communities. Our first objective is to become fluent in the natural history of this region, its climate and geography, and to become intimately familiar with many of the species that live therein. We will travel across a transect of ecological systems ranging from coastal Valdivian rainforests, home of the ancient alerce trees, to the alpine forests, tundra, and snowfields of the Andes, to the grasslands that lie in the rain shadow of the cordillera. As we become familiar with the inhabitants of these ecosystems, we will conduct ecological research projects that examine interactions, patterns of diversity, and ecological niches of the species we encounter.

We will also investigate the effectiveness of key conservation measures, such as the establishment of national parks and private reserves, which seek to create sustainable livelihoods for local communities while protecting biodiversity through participation in ongoing conservation, restoration, and sustainable agriculture projects. Highlights will include extended field investigations in Parque Pumalín, one of the largest private nature reserves in the world, and Parque Nacional Chiloé, on the fabled Isla Grande. These are two remarkable natural laboratories with intact forest and wildlife communities. However, despite their protected status and almost impenetrable landscapes, daunting conservation challenges loom, ranging from unsustainable and unregulated resource use by local communities to ambitious multinational development plans including new roads, dams, and salmon farming.


M.S. in Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin, 2006
Daniel is an anthropologist and naturalist with over fifteen years of experience working on conservation and environmental education projects in diverse international and US locations. His research interests lie in ornithology and sustainable resource management of protected areas and wilderness. Daniel has conducted research on the Polylepis forests of the Andes mountains and worked on conservation and education projects in Bolivia. Daniel has been teaching with Wildlands Studies since 2009 and has taught in Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, New Zealand and Alaska. He currently leads our Chile Project.