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Susan Willson

short course: Tropical and Avian Ecology of Amazonian Peru

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           Join tropical avian ecologist Dr. Susan Willson for ten days in the lowland rainforest of Madre de Dios, Amazonian Peru.  This program includes a deep exploration of the biodiversity and ecology of the spectacular bird fauna of this area, with hands-on training in bird capture techniques, data collection, and ecological field methods.  The course will also offer a rare opportunity to examine bird plumage variation by species, age and sex up-close on birds in the hand.  Birds will be individually marked for long-term monitoring, and released at the site of capture.  We plan to work in different habitat types around the reserve and will leave plenty of time for independent exploration of the reserve’s rainforest.  In addition to bird ecology, the course will focus on how ecology and evolution have made this area one of the most biodiverse places in the world.  The program also includes an overnight field trip to Lake Sandoval (more birds and giant river otters!), a morning excursion to a canopy bridge system, and a visit to a parrot claylick.  An optional add-on post-trip to Machu Picchu is offered from Cusco with Dr. Willson.

Topics covered in this 10D/9N English-language course:

            -  ecology and evolution of tropical biodiversity.

            - taxonomy and identification of rainforest birds, mammals and plants.

            - morning mist-netting sessions to catch understory birds, discussion of banding techniques, and instruction on use of mist nets.  Students will be provided guided                         instruction in mist net set-up and management, and will assist in recording data.  Handling of birds is solely under strict supervision of instructor.  

            -bird walks that focus on identification and learning birds by sound, as well as searching for mammals and their tracks.

            -discussion of conservation issues faced in Madre de Dios region, Peru, and their solutions.

            -a visit to a Brazil nut processing center, where local people (mostly women) attain sustainable work.

            -how ecotourism, sustainable development and agroforestry projects are enabling local Peruvians to conserve the rainforest.

Dates: Tues 24 Sept – Thurs 3 Oct 2019 (10D/9N)

Cost: $1150 per student all-inclusive from Puerto Maldonado, Peru, airfare costs to Puerto Maldonado not included.

Dr. Susan Willson is a tropical avian ecologist with over two decades of research experience in Amazonian Peru.  She has led field courses and student expeditions in Peru, Costa Rica, and Tanzania.  She is a master bird bander and loves teaching students about the natural history and ecology of tropical rainforests.  She currently teaches courses on rain forest ecology, ornithology, general ecology, Adirondack ecology, and bird banding as an Assoc. Professor of Biology at St. Lawrence University in New York state.

Course is run out of Hacienda Herrera Lodge, near Puerto Maldonado, Peru, via the Peruvian conservation organization CECCOT:


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