FIELD COURSE: ECOLOGY OF THE ANDES
IN NORTHERN BOLIVIA

PBIO 369F (#04536), PBIO 693 (#04564)

Fall-Winter Intersession (21 Nov-13 Dec), 2000

Purpose of the Course: To teach students about the vegetational ecology, flora and human-environment interactions of the central Andes, exploring aspects covered in the Fall quarter introductory seminar. Field studies will cover both terrestrial and aquatic systems. Stress will be placed on observations of vegetation structure, characteristic life forms and recurrent morphological adaptations, climatic and ecological influences maintaining vegetation and aquatic systems, agricultural crops and other economically useful plants, human impacts, and regional conservation efforts. Human cultural traditions in Andean Life will be an important secondary focus, being integral to the international experience. Studies will focus on three vegetation types along the upper end of the Andean elevational gradient: the high-elevation cushion-plant "puna" community, commonly above 4000 meters; the timberline "paramo" forest, ca. 3000-4000 meters; and the subtropical cloud forest, at 2000-3000 meters.

Format: This intensive field course spans three weeks (22 November-14 December, 2000) of the Andean spring season, which sees mild temperatures and a fair amount of sun and periodic light showers at lower elevations (2000-3000 meters) but frequently chilly temperatures with sudden snow or hail at very high ones (especially >4000 meters). The class will revolve around four key villages serving as "base camps" for several days of extended hikes into nearby natural communities and surrounding crop lands. The areas, arranged in order of visitation and from lowest to highest elevation, are Coroico (cloud forest), Unduavi (paramo forest), Sorata and Copacabana (puna). At each study area, day hikes will stress observations on community structure, life forms, identification of major plant genera and families, uses of economically important crops and agricultural practices, and human impacts. Representative plants will be brought back to our lodgings for evening study. Suppertime discussions will review each day's observations and events. Communal evening study sessions will focus on reviews of plant identifications and distinctions, and illustration of characteristic plants. Time will also be included for students to record significant field observations and personal reflections in their daily journal.

During the course, students will also participate in faculty-directed terrestrial and aquatic plant research projects on which they will be briefed fully during the Fall quarter. Students will utilize field identification skills, will prepare representative plant specimens as vouchers, will apply standard ecological sampling techniques for vegetation, record soil and/or water chemistry data, preserve plant tissue of populations and species for laboratory molecular genetic analysis, read maps, and use a Global Positioning System to obtain latitude, longitude and elevation. An in-country professional botanist, Stephan Beck, Director of the Herbario Nacional in La Paz, will accompany us during the Unduavi trip, assist with field studies and give guest lectures on special topics. Students from the Instituto de Ecologia will also accompany us, giving OU students an opportunity to interact with Bolivian students and utilize their foreign language skills.

While the learning component of the course and three field exams will be administered in Bolivia during the Fall-Winter Intersession, students will complete the course and receive their final grade during the early weeks of Winter quarter, by turning in their daily journal, completing course evaluations and participating in debriefing sessions.

Enrollment/Credits: Up to 10 undergraduate students and 5 graduate students; 3 credit hours, registering for Winter quarter; all field course participants will be pre-registered by the instructors through the Summer Sessions office

Eligibility: Open to all undergrad natural sciences majors meeting the prerequisite, and PBIO/BIOS/MSES grad students; eligibility must be approved early in the Fall quarter by the instructors

Prerequisites: PBIO 111, PBIO 405/693 (Ecology of the Andes fall quarter seminar), additional briefing sessions, at least sophomore standing in Fall, and instructor permission; Plant Systematics (PBIO 309/509) or Plant Ecology (PBIO 425/525) strongly recommended

Evaluations of Student Progress:

Field Course Itinerary and Content: Lecture topics, field exams and travel itinerary for the intersession field course, and course follow-up with journal completion, student debriefings and evaluations early in Winter quarter, are as follows.

Day/Date

Location/Lodging

Activity/Focus

Fall-Winter Intersession 2000

(21 Nov-13 Dec)

 
1 (11/21) Fly to La Paz Overnight on plane (ugh!)
2-3

(11/22-23)

La Paz; lodging (2 nts) at Hotel Viena City marketplace: fruits, vegetables and medicinals; tour of La Paz; meet National Herbarium personnel
4-8

(11/24-28)

Coroico; lodging (5 nts) at Hostal Kory Field studies: subtropical cloud forest vegetation and stream ecology; citrus, banana, coffee and coca agriculture
9 (11/29) Corioco Field exam: Subtropical cloud forest
9-12

(11/29-12/2)

Day visits to Unduavi and Chuspipata areas; lodging (4 nts) at Hotel Viena in La Paz Field studies: paramo forest and stream ecology
13 (12/3) Unduavi/Chuspipata Field exam: paramo forest and streams
13 (12/3) La Paz; lodging (1 nt) at Hotel Viena Preparation for Sorata
14-18

(12/4-8)

Sorata; lodging (5 nts) at Hotel Copacabana Field studies: moist alpine puna and lake ecology; potato agriculture, llama raising and house building
19 (12/9) Sorata Field exam: moist alpine puna and lake ecology
19-20

(12/9-10)

Copacabana; lodging (2 nts) at Hotel Ambassador Field studies: dry alpine puna and lake ecology; hiking tour of Inca roads and fishing villages; Sailboat trip to Isla del Sol and Inca ruins
21-22

(12/11-12)

La Paz; lodging (2 nts) at Hotel Viena Research materials deposited with Herbario Nacional personnel; souvenir shopping; preparations for departure
23 (12/13) Fly back to Columbus  
Winter 2001  
Week 1 PBIO Dept. Student evaluations; review of course format, content and highlights
Weeks 2-4 Faculty homes/PBIO Dept. Student journal turned in (Week 2); informal debriefings, slide shows and discussion of trip highlights; expansion of web page for course

Texts and Other Resources:

Expenses for the Field Course:

[Tuition, 3 credit hours; register in Winter quarter--$462 in-state, $987 out-of-state]

Domestic expenses

"Worst case" travel expenses

Prepared by Harvey Ballard; last revised 20 October, 2000

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