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cropped-1017749_10152670166388583_7191269159242986882_n.jpgI’ve always been energy-conscious, but I’ve never spent 3 hours in constant conversation with a small group of people about the importance of a tree or whether or not cheetahs can get their mojo on with one another. Over the two weeks, that changed. It was eye-opening to discover the depth with which scientists and researchers have studied life across the world in hopes of preserving the diverse pool of species Earth hosts. And of course, field trips always make class more worthwhile. You know you’re winning when you “have” to go to the beach and observe a natural colony of sea lions, or when you have “no option” but to watch the sun set from atop a monkey puzzle tree forest and take a cool night hike back down the mountain.

And Kate Pospisil

I enjoyed the class tremendously, the subject matter, the organization and especially the teacher!  You did a wonderful job teaching the class and I would have never known it was your first time.  My favorite element was the group discussion-led class sessions; I feel that this was very effective in engaging all the students and allowing us to see different perspectives on touchy and controversial subject matter.  This is often the case in fisheries and wildlife management decisions and was good exposure to the thought processes and differing views about topics that may don’t have one right answer, if there is an answer at all.  Learning from other classmates is always a valuable experience in my opinion.  The field trips were an excellent addition to the course as it allowed us to have a visual and tangible experience that is all too often lacking in undergraduate education.  Thanks so much for your time down here, I really enjoyed the class very

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Student Presentations

Posted by: | February 27, 2015 | No Comment |

The class ended with pairs of students presenting on different national parks or nature reserves in Chile, with lively discussions following each presentation.

Kay and Jake showed the vast species diversity of Huilo Huilo Reserve, highlighting the temperate rainforest habitat.Kay and Jake

Galen and Sam had some great ideas for additions and modifications for the pristine Vincente Perez Rosalez National ParkGalen and sam

Kate and Jenna discussed legislation and conservation differences between a National Park and a nature reserve using Rio Los Cipress Nature Reserve as an example

Sarah and Meghan gave a detailed (and interesting!) account of the culture and history of Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island

Meghan and sarah

Mitch and Tessa discussed how Lago Cochrane National Reserve was created for the highly endangered huemel Mitch and Tessa

Some of them even had slides in Spanish, sort of…

Some of them even had slides in Spanish, sort of…

Hanna and Travis shared some amazing photographs, and discussed how humans impact high traffic parks like Torres del Paines. Hanna and Travis

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Cobquecura Excursion

“On Feb. 4th our class went on a second excursion. This time we had a whole bus to ourselves! Mostly because the University was on vacation and our van drivers were unavailable.”

And Galen drove???? Well, no, but he was (once again) our fluent Spanish speaker.

And Galen drove???? Well, no, but he was (once again) our fluent Spanish speaker.

And the sign on the bus made it very clear eating hot dogs and fries on the bus was not allowed…

And the sign on the bus made it very clear eating hot dogs and fries on the bus was not allowed…

“We headed west to Cobquecura and Buchupureo to see the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens). In Spanish their name is lobos marinos! Wolves of the sea!”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“When we arrived at the beach we split into groups to observe the sea lions on their rocks. This time of year is just past mating and into pupping season, so there were many pups to be seen. Teeny, weeny little sea lions (at least compared to the other guys)! There were a surprising number of vultures hanging out with the sea lions. I wonder if there are more during pupping season than the rest of the year. There was also many terns and cormorants, as well as a Peruvian pelican sighting, the only species of pelican in Chile!”

Galen pointing out the pelican (or at least pointing), while Sam and Mitch ponder what a colony of 1500 sea lions looks like

Galen pointing out the pelican (or at least pointing), while Sam and Mitch ponder what a colony of 1500 sea lions looks like

Sarah, Tessa and Meghan. Don't disturb them! They're counting!

Sarah, Tessa and Meghan. Don’t disturb them! They’re counting!

Mitch hard at work!!

Mitch hard at work!!

“There was a large male on a small rock to the north of the other, larger outcroppings all by himself except for a gull, standing sentient with the big guy. One comment was that the sea lion was tired of the lady lions and needed a break. This could be likely, as based on my counts there were about 10 males per 100 females. Other students may have gotten higher or lower numbers. The biologists happened to be out there making their counts and told us the population estimate for this colony was close to 1500 sea lions.”

Kay observing while Hanna counts and Travis records.

Kay observing while Hanna counts and Travis records.

Hanna and Travis adding them all up.

Hanna and Travis adding them all up.

“The big males were definite. Giant beasties that sounded like wookies when they tossed their heads back to holler. Some of the females seemed to be as high as they could up on the crest of the rock to avoid being pestered.”

Jake and Galen perfecting their counting methods, supervised by Jenna. Hey, Sarah and Tessa, you’re looking the wrong way…

Jake and Galen perfecting their counting methods, supervised by Jenna. Hey, Sarah and Tessa, you’re looking the wrong way…

“After spending about an hour making observations and counts here, we went in search of lunch and a hike Renee had heard about on her recon mission the week prior to our excursion. We found lunch at Punto Cerro in Buchupureo and spent about 2 hours delighting in Chilean cuisine.”

Because fieldwork always creates hungry people

Because fieldwork always creates hungry people

“We did not find our hike, though we tried. The pavement ended and it seemed like land worth hiking was far into the distance. So we turned around and headed back towards the sea lions and stopped at “Church of the Rock”. Here we explored the giant, mostly basalt, outcroppings. The “church” was a large cave in the largest rock and locals had placed religious idols in this sacred feeling place.”

Jake resting after scaling some serious rocks

Jake resting after scaling some serious rocks

“The wind howled through these caves and I couldn’t help but think that I would not live there. Often times in caves I think, “I could live here, with a fire and some furs”. But not this cave, the ocean was too close and the wind too high. “

“I spent the bus ride back to Chillan in wet shorts. I was trying to get that perfect picture of ocean spray against rocks and while I was watching the camera a wave came up and knocked me in the head. Put sand in my ear and everything!  I attempted to dry out on a rock for a few minutes, but it was time to head back to the bus, and a good thing, as apparently they were looking for me!”

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Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta Excursion

The National Park

“Thursday of the first week of class, we all piled into vans as a class and headed south to Angol, Chile and Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta to see the monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) and hopefully wildlife. It seemed like a long trip, about 2 hours, but compared to getting anywhere else in this country it was quick. Angol is a medium sized town nestled on the valley floor against the foothills of the Chilean coast range, Cordillera de la Costa in the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta. So, part of the Nahuelbuta mountains within the coast range.”

2015Jan29_0011

“We started our hike in the hot of the afternoon and as per usual I lagged behind. Equipped with my journal, my camera and an ID book I found keeping pace difficult. I did catch up at the oldest monkey puzzle tree, which is good as that was when we had our class discussion about population genetics and the status of different monkey puzzle populations on the list of endangered species.“The oldest monkey puzzle tree in the park

Jake, Sam, Galen and Mitch evaluating the oldest tree

Jake, Sam, Galen and Mitch evaluating the oldest tree

A close up of the leaf pattern of the monkey puzzle tree

A close up of the bark on a monkey puzzle tree, no wonder the monkeys were puzzled

A close up of the bark on a monkey puzzle tree, no wonder the monkeys were puzzled

“For those of you interested in an interactive learning opportunity about plants and animals (not just these trees) that are currently protected go here. http://www.iucnredlist.org/. It really is informative and I highly recommend checking it out.”

“We hiked up this hill and I was so behind that at one point our prof, Renee, came back to make sure I was not lost or dead. I had stopped to listen to a woodpecker and was greeted by a black-throated huet huet (Pteroptochos tarnii). He (or she) had hopped up on a nurse log to holler at me for disturbing the peace. After that I sped up some but as each step took me higher in altitude, so too did I have to stop and take a picture of and look in the species ID book for a new species I hadn’t yet seen! It was a good time, for sure!“

“We ate lunch on a rock face looking east over the valley and off toward the Andes. It was hazy though, and we couldn’t see much of the other mountain range. However, there were giant, beautiful cumulous clouds. “

Jake basking in the glory and taking in the view

Jake basking in the glory and taking in the view

Jenna taking a well deserved break after (almost) reaching the top

Jenna taking a well deserved break after (almost) reaching the top

“I gazed through the binoculars and watched my classmates chase lizards before we headed up some more, as apparently that wasn’t the cool viewpoint!  We came to a point where the trail wound down and around immense boulders. Two-story house sized boulders (with winding steps beside them?) and we went up, of course. “

“From up here though, you could see the ocean expanding for miles and the sun was beginning to sink in the western sky, glinting off of the water just so you couldn’t tell exactly where the horizon was. To our right was an endangered woodpecker dining on some insects on a monkey-puzzle tree. As the sun began to glow red-orange it reflected off the rocks, the trees and us, creating amazing silhouettes and glowing on the canopy top across the mountain range. Despite the birds in the distance screaming like toddlers, the scene was quite serene.”

Hanna and Travis waiting patiently for the sunset

Hanna and Travis waiting patiently for the sunset

Mitch enlightening Sarah and Tessa on the importance of…monkey puzzle trees(??)

Mitch enlightening Sarah and Tessa on the importance of…monkey puzzle trees(??)

The sunset just starting, from our view at the top

The sunset just starting, from our view at the top

Sunset over the ocean

Sunset over the ocean

On the way home from Angol we stopped at a waterfall, to contrast differences in species diversity in pristine parks vs human recreation areas. It was quite a contrast!The falls

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We were lucky enough to take two field trips. As Kate Pospisil commented:

The field trips were an excellent addition to the course as it allowed us to have a visual and tangible experience that is all too often lacking in undergraduate education.

Field trips in detail, as told by Kay Erchiling

Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta Excursion

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Introduction

Posted by: | February 25, 2015 | No Comment |

Oregon State University’s FW 350 course, Endangered Species Conservation, was onsite in Chillan, Chile, hosted at the Universidad de Concepcion (photo of University). Dan Edge and Florencia Casanova have run the course for the past few years, and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of it.

Although this course encompassed all endangered species as well as The Endangered Species Act legislation, there was an emphasis on species and policy within Chile. We were lucky enough to have a ranger from Parque Nacional Nuble come talk with us and share some specifics on endangered species in the park as well as legislation of national parks in Chile.

The course was taught in a discussion-based framework, which means class participation and enthusiasm about the content were the most important pieces. The group of students did an amazing job. They kept the topics interesting by providing through-provoking comments and questions.

We felt very fortunate to be a part of the Universidad de Concepcion

We felt very fortunate to be a part of the Universidad de Concepcion

In front of the building where we had class, with Florencia.

In front of the building where we had class, with Florencia.

My favorite element was the group discussion-led class sessions; I feel that this was very effective in engaging all the students and allowing us to see different perspectives on touchy and controversial subject matter.  This is often the case in fisheries and wildlife management decisions and was good exposure to the thought processes and differing views about topics that probably don’t have one right answer, if there is an answer at all.  Learning from other classmates is always a valuable experience in my opinion.  –Kate Posposil

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