Overseas Field Courses


CONS 497: Special Topics in Field Ecology
Primate Behavior, Ecology and Conservation
This course will run again in summer 2018

This Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation course is taught as an overseas field research course, incorporating lectures and field based methods.  Participants are asked to develop a project proposal pre-departure and carry out an independent research project on-site as a final project.  The course is held at Los Amigos Biological Station or Centro de Investigacion y Capacitacion Rio Los Amigos (CICRA), Madre de Dios, Peru, which has eleven species of primates providing ample research opportunity.

Students will be exposed to essential techniques in field methodology to conduct research on primates in the wild, in a tropical rainforest setting. They will also get an overview of current conservation issues and strategies for dealing with decreasing primate populations in the wild.  Primates are one of the most charismatic yet highly endangered vertebrate groups on the planet; nearly half of all primate species are threatened in the wild.  The major issue facing many primate species is habitat disturbance, including habitat loss, alteration, and fragmentation.

The course is hperu-aerialeld in the Madre de Dios region of southeastern Peru, which is highly threatened by destructive gold mining, logging and road development, resulting in rampant habitat destruction.  In light of the severity of conservation issues in this region and using primates as an umbrella group of concern, students will develop pertinent research questions in order to inform conservation efforts and management strategies to emphasize the pertinence of scientific research for positive conservation outcomes.

Students will have the opportunity to interact with national and international researchers and get exposure to long-term research and conservation efforts.  The course will also cover the need for students to engage in local community efforts and collaboration in order to apply their global conservation knowledge and skills more effectively.

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