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Ecology and Conservation in Practice
Intensive Field Course - Spring Quarter 2019
Course to be conducted in California Natural Reserves and Baja California Sur, Mexico


Why California and Baja California?
California, including the Baja California Peninsula, is a global biodiversity hotspot and known for its diversity of ecosystems including islands, coastal scrub and sage, lagoons, sub-alpine and alpine forests, tundra, and desert islands, subtropical scrublands, and deserts.  Unfortunately, human development and it’s impacts have profoundly impacted many parts of this ecological landscape – from direct development to contamination to introduced species.   This course utilizes University of California Natural Reserve system and islands of Baja California Sur as natural laboratories to teach advanced ecological principles and innovative approaches to conservation. This year we are excited that we are offering this class in coordination with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and our course will include students from both UCSC and UNAM.

What is the course content?
Dr. Don Croll of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Dr. Gage Dayton of the UC Natural Reserve System will jointly teach this 19-unit supercourse. It will focus on field methods, ecology, and conservation. The course will be equivalent to the content of four on-campus courses. A large component of the course will consist of written and oral presentations. Through class lecture, discussion, student projects, and field research projects, you will gain an understanding of: 1) fundamental concepts in ecology; 2) principles of conservation biology; 3) geomorphology and climate, 4)) field research techniques; and 6) field techniques for conservation. 

Course Costs
This course will require a course fee of approximately $1,597 for food, local travel, and field research supplies. In addition, there will be costs for airfare and foreign travel. Limited financial aid will be available for qualified students.

What is the approach?
The course will begin with lectures and field research based at the UCSC Reserves (Año Nuevo, Younger Lagoon, Campus, and Big Creek).  Using this background, we will embark on an extended field trip (2 weeks) to the islands of Baja California Sur where we will further hone on conservation research skills and address more specific questions. We then return to UCSC campus for 2 weeks of field research project write-up and presentation. The course sequence (ENVS 109ABCD or BIOE 151ABCD) satisfies the senior exit requirement, two upper-division electives, and one GE course for Environmental Studies majors; and satisfies 3 upper-division electives requirements for Biology majors.


How do I apply?
We are inviting highly motivated students interested in getting hands-on, rigorous experience in conducting field research in ecology and conservation to submit an application for the course.  Please fill out the online application here: or past the following url into a web browser:

Applications are due October 31, 2018.  If you choose to submit the application as an attachment, please fill out the questionnaire below and send electronic version to BOTH Gage Dayton ( AND Don Croll (  Students will be notified about their application status approximately November 5th.