The Peru Project: Ecology and Conservation

Meeting Location              Cusco, Peru
 Program Dates        Fall 2017: September 29 - Nobember 11, 2017
   Fall 2018: September 22 - Nobember 4, 2018
 Accommodations    Primarily camping, research stations, occasional youth hostel
   and rural lodges
 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


            Peru Program Costs, Fall 2017
 $  150      Application Fee
            $4150      Program Fee
            $2750      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1500      Estimated Airfare/Visa
            $1000      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending
            $9550      Total Estimated Cost

            Fall 2017: Program fees due by August 1, 2017               

            Peru Program Costs, Fall 2018
 $  150          Application Fee
            $5500          Program Fee
            $2850          Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1500          Estimated Airfare/Visa
            $1000          Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending
            $11,000      Total Estimated Cost

            Fall 2018: Program fees due by August 1, 2018                


P1160154Join our journey in Peru where the towering tropical Andes meet the steamy lowland Amazon rainforest. Throughout the project we will traverse one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet, affording us the opportunity to study incredibly diverse plant and wildlife communities across varied tropical habitats. We will take part in ongoing research at remote biological stations, discuss conservation strategies with local activists and research biologists, and study the forests, rivers, plants, and animals communities under the guidance of scientists and local experts.

As we explore cloud forests, dense lowland rainforests, oxbow lakes, and wide, meandering Amazonian rivers we will have opportunities to observe jaguars, giant otters, black caiman, anacondas, hundreds of species of birds, multiple species of monkey, and a bewildering variety of brilliant butterflies and other exotic insects.


peru-boat-catalogFollowing a transect from the eastern slopes of the southern Peruvian Andes to the adjacent Amazonian lowlands, our team activities will begin at the Wayqecha Biological Station, home to an exceptional array of high Andean habitats, flora, and fauna. Here we join researchers to hone our field and observational skills, examine endemic plant and animal species, and study Andean conservation initiatives. From Wayqecha we travel to the town of Pillcopata and the nearby “Gallito de las Rocas” ecotourism concession, a privately-managed protected area in the Andean foothills that aims to profit from sustainable tourism while simultaneously safeguarding biodiversity. We will also explore how uncontrolled development and extraction of natural resources threaten the nearby Manu National Park, and what is being done to boost local economies without risking the integrity of this important protected area.

Our third field study site is the Cocha Cashu Biological Station, located within the heart of Manu National Park, a region minimally impacted by humans that provides critical insights into the biodiversity and ecological processes of a healthy, intact rainforest. Surrounded by an abundance of aquatic and terrestrial habitats and indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation, students will conduct a substantial independent research project on a topic ranging from plant phenology to insect diversity to avian foraging behavior to primate social interactions. Next, we will travel to “Los Amigos” biological station, located adjacent to a 370,000 acre conservation concession, the first of its kind in the world. P1160918At Los Amigos we will learn about a unique approach to conservation that aims to mitigate the negative effects of rapid development and resource extraction in the surrounding forest while at the same time protect abundant wildlife, including harpy eagles, spider monkeys, and jaguars. Our final stop is a small, privately-managed Brazil nut concession where we will learn about the southern Peruvian Amazon’s leading sustainable non-timber forest product, the conservation value of this renewable resource, and the challenges facing sustainable resource extraction.

The insights gained by immersing ourselves in the abundant life of this extraordinarily diverse part of the world, engaging with scientists and locals, and grappling with questions of biological and cultural survival, will form a solid foundation to help us consider broader human and environmental issues and how these are intimately intertwined.


Ph.D in Entomology, University of Florida, 2015
Geoff is a tropical biologist whose scientific research interests lie in the ecology and evolution of butterflies. In particular, he is interested in the clearwing butterflies, a group whose biology is fascinating, and which serves as a model for diverse studies in ecology and evolution in the tropics. He is also active in applied conservation research, and is currently leading a project to explore the threat posed by road construction to biodiversity conservation in the Amazon rainforest of Peru. His research has taken him throughout Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Malawi, Zambia, and Malaysia. Geoff has been teaching with Wildlands Studies since 2012 and currently leads our Peru and Ecuador Projects.