Advanced Fieldcourse in Ecology & Conservation – XTBG

REMINDER “This is from 2012. We are currently updating the structure and syllabus for 2013” REMINDER

Credited by Chinese Academy of Sciences (2 credits)

This is an annual 6-week field course run from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is targeted at graduate entry-level (MSc or 1st yr PhD) students or equivalent level participants from government or non-government institutes, who are involved in research activities.

Module I: Ecology and conservation of tropical Asian forests  (~12 days)

This module provides an introduction to the flora and fauna of the region and its ecology. Each topic is lead by member of the resource staff who is a specialist in that topic, and most components combine lectures and practical exercises in the field. More advance components are taught towards the end of the module. These cover topics such as plant or animal ecophysiology, theories of species coexistence, metagenetic methods, and remote sensing.

Participants are often well versed in one particular group, for example they may be competent field botanists or keen Lepidopterists, but know little of other groups. This module empowers participants to think across traditional taxonomic boundaries, and introduces advanced field study techniques. Participants therefore not only learn how to recognise and study a range of taxa but also learn how theoretical concepts of ecology and conservation biology apply across the forest biota.

Module II: Experimental design and statistical computing

Although not strictly a field topic, this module is provided because good experimental design and a capacity to analyze data competently is essential to all aspects of research in ecology and conservation. It is also necessary preparation for the students to conduct their independent projects.

The course is given as a series of 1-day and evening lectures and practicals, and comprises the Basic course of the Experimental Design & Data Analysis workshop.

Module III: Practical conservation (3-4 days)

In this module participants learn about practical aspects to conservation. Most participants on the field courses come from a biology background and therefore the methods of social study are unfamiliar to them. This module introduces techniques such as Rapid Rural Appraisal and Participatory Mapping, though both lectures and practice in conducting surveys.

Participants learn to appreciate the complexities of decision making and consensus building when dealing with local communities, and how to assess the value of natural resources to local communities and identify conflicts with conservation objectives. This is done through visits to practical conservation projects in the field.

Module IV: Independent projects (3-4 day preparation, ~10 days field research, ~7 days analysis and write up)

Perhaps the most important component of the field course, during this module participants develop research questions, derive hypotheses and design and execute a research project. The results are analyzed and written up during the fieldcourse and presented orally during a course symposium.

The participants spend one day to propose and discuss ideas within their groups. Then over the following 2-3 days the participants, in groups or individually, refine there ideas and conduct pilot studies. Each evening the participants present their proposals  Resource staff engage in the process and guide the participants in their debates. Each evening, each group presents its idea to the course for critical review. The field work is conducted over the following 10 days. The participants then return from the field site for a further week of analysis and write up. The written reports are presented in the course Proceedings and an oral report is given during the course symposium. We also encourage participants to prepare manuscripts for publication in peer reviewed journals (see Publications).

Participants are encouraged to work with people who are not from the same country and on topics unrelated to their normal topic of study.

Course symposium

On the final day of the course, participants present the findings of their projects to an invited audience. This both provides practice in making scientific presentations and an opportunity for wider feedback.

Course Proceedings

Proceedings are published 2-3 months following the completion of the course, based on the written reports of the independent research projects. Reports are handed in at the end of the course and are reviewed by the resource staff. The participants then revise their work for publication in the proceedings.

REMINDER “This is from 2012. We are currently updating the structure and syllabus for 2013” REMINDER