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

Field Course 2010

Ecology and Biogeochemistry of the Amazon

June 27 – July 9, 2010


Application Deadline: February 19, 2010
Application deadline for students at Brazilian institutions: March 19, 2010

Amazon-PIRE offers an intensive graduate field course in the Amazon of Brazil on forest ecology and biogeochemistry.

The course combines 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 field course will take place near the Amazon city of Manaus, Brazil, in a fully equipped field site in a forest research site in the central Amazon basin. The local institute is represented by Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia and Large Scale Biosphere–Atmosphere Experiment in Amazônia (INPA/LBA).

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 The University of Arizona or Harvard University, but applicants from other institutions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The theme of course and field projects will be: "Understanding the Amazonian mosaic: from plateaus to valleys, from primary to secondary forests." The intact forests of the Amazon basin consist of a mosaic of upland plateaus bisected by a complex network of drainages, and, increasingly, of a patchwork of intact and transformed landscapes resulting from human land-use change. Understanding this mosaic is critical to predicting the fate of the forest under climate change, and we will focus on methods to investigate this scientific problem.

Methods include:

  • Carbon and vegetation dynamics using eddy covariance methods in complex terrain and in conjunction with plot-based forest inventories
  • Ecophysiology of canopy leaves and whole-forest canopies via gas exchange methods
  • Soil properties and trace gas biogeochemistry
  • Remote sensing, from ground measurements to satellite, of leaf characteristics (via spectroradiometry) and forest structure (via ground-based LIDAR)
  • Dynamic vegetation modeling of forest ecosystems
  • Data analysis techniques using the R software package.

Course organization includes:

  • Morning: field exercises and independent projects
  • Afternoon and early evening: class lectures and discussion
  • Late afternoon and night: project presentations
  • Portuguese instruction and a boat trip on the Amazon or Rio Negro
  • Hands-on experience with a variety of instruments
  • Access to long-term dataset of data gathered at all scales during the Brazilian-led LBA project

Confirmed Course instructors:

Plínio Camargo, University of São Paulo; Alfredo Huete, University of Arizona; Travis Huxman, University of Arizona; Paul Moorcroft, Harvard University; Bruce Nelson, INPA; Raimundo Cosme de Oliveira, EMBRAPA, Santarém; Scott Saleska, University of Arizona; Steven Wofsy, Harvard University; Flavia Costa, from INPA-Ecology.

Knowledge of Portuguese is a plus, but not required. Course will be taught in English.

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