Studying Biology in Cuenca, Ecuador
In a country as biologically diverse as Ecuador, there are multiple possibilities for study. The Biology and Environmental Science professor, Teresa Clare, has an extensive background in filmmaking and conservation. Regarding the diversity of Ecuador, she says,
Ecuador is ideal as it is possible to travel from mountains to rainforests and beaches in a short amount of time and it provides a huge range of historical, geographical, social and biological conditions that will enable students to appreciate much better the issues surrounding the courses they are taking.
What Biology Courses does CEDEI offer?
Courses in these two sciences overlap at CEDEI. One course on Conservation Biology is a discussion of readings covering a variety of topics, including Taxonomic Diversity, Diversity and Dynamics,Conservation Genetics, Threats to Biodiversity, and Preventing Extinction. Other courses are found below.
Where do we travel for science/research excursions?
During the travels in the Semester programs, students also have the opportunity to visit the Galápagos Islands and El Cajas National Park. The Galápagos Islands are one of the touchstones of study in natural selection. Students learn about the evolution of endemic species; they also get to see many of the species that influenced Charles Darwin in his formation of his theories. Loca guides help point out the finches, blue footed boobies, frigatebirds, sea lions, and penguins. El Cajas is a drastic difference in landscape compared to the coastal region. The páramo, as it’s called in Spanish, is filled with dry, tall grasses, quinoa trees, and hundreds of lagoons.
Is there a focus on conservation and sustainability?
Regarding conservation work, there are many areas of focus that specifically apply to Ecuador. Conservation biology emerged as an important new discipline during the 1980s in response to the alarming loss of biological diversity throughout the world, a result of rapid growth of the human population and the expansion of human activities. Coursework is an overview of conservation biology specifically related to Ecuador and Latin America– students will learn about threats to biodiversity, various problems faced by small populations of endangered species, conservation strategies for individual species and for communities and ecosystems, and the difficulties that emerge in conservation work in developing countries.
Students also create and present an individual research project. This is an opportunity to focus on a particular problem or area of study, to perform individual research work, and to present findings to a small class of students studying the sciences.