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PASI Field Course 2011

A Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) in Peru

Tropical Ecology and Biogeochemistry,
from Andean Cloud Forests to the Lowland Amazon

June 28– July 15, 2011

Application Deadline: March 1, 2011 March 20, 2011  (apply here)

Amazon-PIRE offers a Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI), an intensive field engagement with problems in Tropical Ecology, Biogeochemistry, and Climate.  The course combines lectures by all participants (including an international group of faculty 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 PASI will take place along an elevational gradient, from the Andean Cloud Forest to the Lowland Amazon of Peru, in fully equipped field sites.

PASI enrollment is limited to 25-30 students, half from the U.S. and half from South American countries (with a focus on Brazil and Peru), and is intended to provide post-docs and advanced graduate students with an introduction to advanced topics in field methods which they can use as a springboard for their own related research questions.

The Amazon Basin contains the largest extant tropical forests on earth, with unparalleled biological diversity, and a vast store of organic carbon.  It is a potent engine in the global water and energy cycles.  Large changes in Amazonian biodiversity, together with those in biogeochemical cycling of carbon and water, expected to occur with climate change or deforestation, could have global as well as local impact.  It is critically important to understand the ecological and biogeochemical mechanisms that drive forest-climate interactions in Amazônia.

The theme of PASI field projects will be: "What is the future of Amazon forests under climate change?"  We will use ecosystem transitions along the Peruvian elevational gradient as a model for addressing this question.

Methods and Topics include:

  • Carbon, water, and vegetation dynamics using eddy covariance methods in conjunction with plot-based forest inventories

        and measurements of water isotopes in vapor and liquid

  • Ecophysiology of canopy leaves and whole-forest canopies via gas exchange methods
  • Taxonomy and phylogeny of tropical vegetation communities
  • Soil properties, soil microbial communities, 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
  • Spanish instruction and a boat trip
  • Hands-on experience with a variety of instruments
  • Access to long-term dataset of data gathered at all scales


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