The University of Arizona Brazilian Partners Harvard University The University of Arizona

Field Course 2009

July 19-29, 2009

Ecology and Biogeochemistry of the Amazon Themes:

  • How do ecosystems respond to drought?
  • How do we scale variation from organism to ecosystem?
    This is an intensive field course focusing on the ecology and biogeochemistry of Amazonian ecosystems. It combines classroom lectures by an international group of instructors, field-based instruction, and small group projects to provide theoretical and practical tools to tackle global change problems in a setting designed to foster effective international collaboration.


The course will take place in the Caxiuanã National Forest, at the Ferreira Penna field research station, a fully equipped Brazilian field site in a national forest in the eastern Amazon Basin.

Course enrollment is limited to 20 students (10 U.S. and 10 Brazilian), and is intended to provide graduate students and advanced undergraduates with an introduction to advanced topics in field methods which they can use as a springboard for their own related research questions. On the U.S. side, this course is designed for students interested in (or already involved in) the Amazon-PIRE project at University of Arizona or Harvard University, but applicants from other institutions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Field projects for the course will focus on the two course themes announced above (effects of drought, and scaling from organism to ecosystem), leveraging from the unique ecosystem-scale drought experiment that is ongoing at this field site, in which 90% of the rainwater falling on 1 ha of forest is being diverted in order to simulate the kind of intense drought predicted for the future of the Amazon under global climate change.

We will develop methods to address this question that have broad relevance to seasonal cycles and the response to climate change.

Methods include:

  • carbon and vegetation dynamics using eddy covariance methods and plot based forest inventories
  • ecophysiology of canopy leaves and whole-forest canopies via gas exchange methods
  • trace gas biogeochemistry of soils
  • soil properties and hydrology
  • remote sensing, from ground measurements to satellite, of leaf characteristics (via spectroradiometry) and forest structure (via ground-based LIDAR)

The course organization includes:

  • Morning: field exercises and independent projects
  • Late afternoon and early evening: class lectures and discussion
  • Last afternoon and night: project presentations
  • Portuguese instruction and social trips
  • Hands on experience with a variety of instruments crucial to assess small scale leaf and soil responses and larger scale eddy covariance and remote sensing techniques
  • Access to long-term dataset of data gathered at all scales during the Brazilian-led LBA project

Course instructors include:

Plínio Camargo, University of São Paulo; José Henrique Cattanio, Federal University of Pará in Belém; Alfredo Huete, University of Arizona; Travis Huxman, University of Arizona; Antonio Lola da Costa, Federal University of Pará in Belém; Raimundo Cosme de Oliveira, EMBRAPA, Santarém; Scott Saleska, University of Arizona; Joost van Haren, University of Arizona; Steven Wofsy, Harvard University.