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

PIRE Field Course 2012

Ecology and Biogeochemistry of the Amazon

July 8-19, 2012


Application Deadline: March 2, 2012

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 in a fully-equipped Brazilian field site in the Tapajós National Forest, a reserve in the heart of the Amazon Basin near the city of Santarém,state of Pará, Brazil. The local institute is the 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 Program at the University of Arizona and Harvard University, but applicants from other institutions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The theme of the course and field projects will focus on the question: "How do plant species, soils, and ecosystems respond to daily cycles in light, temperature, and moisture?"  We will develop methods to address this question that have broad relevance to ecosystem responses to land use and climate change.

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
  • 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)
  • 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 (English is the official language of the course.  Knowledge of Portuguese is a plus, but not required.)
  • Late afternoon and night: project presentations
  • Portuguese instruction and social trips to Alter do Chão (river beach), Santarém, and a boat trip on the Amazon and Tapajós rivers
  • 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

Confirmed Course instructors:

Plínio Camargo, University of São Paulo; Raimundo Cosme de Oliveira, EMBRAPA, Santarém; Rodrigo da Silva, Federal University of Western Pará;  Rafael Oliveira, State University of Campinas; Scott Saleska, University of Arizona; Joost van Haren, University of Arizona; Luciana Alves, University of Arizona and State University of Campinas; Paul Moorcroft, Harvard University.

Course Costs:

Course cost is US $1,500 including course fees,* room and board.  Airfare to Brazil is additional, and is expected to be around $2,200.  A Brazilian VITEM-1 visa costs around $360.  We will assist students in arranging travel from the U.S. to the course location near Santarém and with their visa application.  Stipends are available on a competitive basis for course costs and for travel assistance.

*Formal academic credit will also be available from the University of Arizona for an additional fee.


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