Tracing Darwin’s Path 3 – A Biocultural Field Experience

Group foto with Dientes.jpgCoordinated by OSARA since 2006, the most recent iteration of Tracing Darwin’s Path, held in June 2008, for the first time brought together students from the University of Magallanes, the University of North Texas, the University of La Serena and a staff person from the U.S. Embassy in Chile. Course instructors Dr. Christopher Anderson (ecologist-OSARA) and Dr. Britt Hollbrook (philsopher-UNT) designed the class to provide students with a direct experience of not just studying biocultural conservation, but seeing how our international and interdisciplinary alliance is successfully putting ideas into practice through the implementation of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Previous versions of the field course have focused on nature writing (2006) and ethnoecology (2007), and the upcoming version (December 2008) will revolve around the theme of “watersheds” – their use, ecology, philosophy and conservation. Students taking part in the experience include such diverse majors as anthropology, journalism, philosophy, psychology, biology, sociology and international relations. To see videos from the course, visit OSARA’s YouTube site.

Cape Horn Highlighted by “Solutions for Our Future”

green-main_image_v3.jpgThe American Council on Higher Education has highlighted the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve in its “Solutions for Our Future” section. The feature story notes that the US-Chile consortium, including UNT and OSARA, works to study and conserve one of the world’s last remaining wilderness areas. It also recognizes the importance of the new “Basal Financing” award obtained by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity.

“Carpintero” Inaugurates the Academic Year for Ecotourism Students at Andres Bello University

woodpecker.jpgXimena Arango, Omora Park Local Coordinator, recently gave the inaugural talk for the academic year at Andres Bello University’s Ecotourism Program at Vina del Mar. Arango’s lecture on the Magellanic woodpecker (“carpintero”) as a charismatic flagship species of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve demonstrates yet again that the wings of this great bird provide the perfect vehicle to “transport” the biocultural conservation activities of Cape Horn to the rest of the world. For more information (in Spanish), visit the UNAB’s website.

International Reach

p08_international-chile.jpgThe UNESCO Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve served as the classroom for UNT biology major and OSARA Project Assistant Kelli Moses over the winter break. The course she took included UNT and University of Magallanes students from disciplines such as anthropology, journalism, biology, philosophy, art and conservation. <to continue>

Biocultural Conservation: A “Trans”-Discipline

In March 2007, the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and the Omora Ethnobotanical Park offered Latin America’s first graduate-level course on Biocultural Conservation, emphasizing the integration of environmental philosophy and ecology. Directed by Drs. Ricardo Rozzi, Juan Armesto and Christopher Anderson, the course was a demonstration of the “trans-disciplinary” nature of such efforts with students coming from throughout the Americas and also from diverse fields of inquiry, including psychology student Carolina Jiménez.

Now, Jiménez has published an article that details the utility of psychology for understanding biodiversity in developing countries. She takes a critical look at the lack of dissemination of knowledge generated by social psychology and the low degree of collaboration it has had to other fields of knowledge, especially conservation and environmental education. To see the article (in Spanish), which also takes lessons learned from the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, visit Psicólogos sin Fronteras.

Collaborative Research in the CHBR

leah.jpgSince 2007, Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Leah Dudley has been collaborating in the thesis of University of Magallanes student Ana María Caicheo, under the direction of Drs. Ricardo Rozzi and Francisca Massardo. In March, Ana María and Leah finished one of their final field expeditions as part of this innovative thesis that seeks to determine the role of insects in dispersing the spores of Tayloria mirabilis. The relationship of insects and non-vascular plants is a completely undeveloped field of inquiry in the Southern Hemisphere. This project is a collaborative effort between the IEB, UMAG and Omora with international associates from the University of Labrador, University of Connecticut and Cornell University and is a pioneering activity in the CHBR to determine the ecological role of the “miniature forests” of Cape Horn, which not only are some of the most diverse organisisms in the subantarctic biome, but could potentially also fulfill key ecological functions.

IEB-Omora Expand Outreach to Pre-schoolers

IMG_1063.JPGDuring 2008, the Omora Consortium has prioritized the formal and systematic inclusion of pre-school students and teachers in its outreach and training program. To that end, Omora Outreach Coordinator Paula Caballero and UMAG Masters Student Yanet Medina, under the supervision of Dr. Ricardo Rozzi, initiated a collaboration with Dr. Mirna Pizarro from the UMAG Education Department. In the coming year, Caballero and Medina will training UMAG students in the pre-school education program about the “miniature forests” of Cape Horn. Five of these undergrates will then conduct their theses in Puerto Williams with the public nursery school (JUNJI). In addition, the outreach program this year will also work with the regional JUNJI office to integrate environmental education material into the system’s pre-school curriculum.

OSARA Intern Publishes Seminal Work on the Fío-Fío

PB160205.JPGDuring her OSARA internship in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve in 2007, Clare Brown worked long and hard to check and fix the Omora Park’s 8 year database of bird banding information, accumulated since 2000 by numerous field technicians and volunteers. She then helped put those data into a manuscript on the autecology and natural history of one of the subantarctic forest’s few long-distance migratory bird species: the fío-fío (Elaenia albiceps). Clare will now use the experience gained with OSARA to conduct a masters in environmental science at Evergreen State Univeristy.

To view the resulting paper, please visit the website of the Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia.

OSARA Proud of Alumni

chile - omora park 240.jpgOSARA is proud to report that the alumni of its first pilot study abroad program with the University of Georgia in 2005 have used there experience in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve to aspire to new heights. Of the four UGA undergraduate students who conducted their honors theses under the direction of OSARA President Dr. Christopher Anderson, besides winning various awards and scholarships for their theses, all are now in prestigious postgraduate programs, including: Brett Maley (M.S. Warnell School of Forest Resources – UGA), Amy Trice (M.S. Odum School of Ecology – UGA), Clayton Griffith (M.S. Urban and Regional Planning – Georgia Institute of Technology) and William Collier (M.S. Social Ecology of Conservation and Development – Yale University). Congratulations “lab pups”!

Vassar Environmental Research Institute to Support OSARA Course

Emily Vail, an undergraduate student at Vassar College, will receive a Summer Travel Fellowship from the Vassar Environmental Research Institute to attend the OSARA field course Biocultural Conservation in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve in December 2008. The $5,000 grant, co-written with OSARA, will permit Ms. Vail to participate in this 2 week, intensive program being developed together with the University of North Texas’ Chile Program Office. For more information check out the course page.

New Ethno-Botany Education Project Favored by Chilean Science Commission

Senda Darwin, Omora’s sister NGO in Chiloé, recently received an “Explora” grant from the Chilean national science commission (CONICYT) to conduct an education program entitled: “Our green roots – discovering and valuing native flora and their traditional uses.” This 10 month program will include working directly with schools in several parts of Chile to learn about and communicate a broad range of experiences about native flora, including their medicinal, artistic, cultural, food and other uses. The knowledge acquired by students and instructors also will be published in a subsquent book on ethno-botany. Omora is proud to support this initiative, lending our partners in Chiloé the years of experience gained in Cape Horn linking the natural and cultural worlds that surround us.

Omora Student Implements Flagship Species for Cape Horn

woodpecker.jpgSince 2004, UMAG masters student Ximena Arango has worked in Puerto Williams to define and implement a “charismatic flagship” species that would promote conservation of old-growth forests in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Arango, a native of Columbia, early on identified the Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) as a keystone species that was also very beloved and recognized by diverse social sectors of the local community.

Arango used her scholarship from the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (2004-2007) to position this species as a symbol that motivates the local community to participate in conservation in the subantarctic archipelago. To date, her work has inspired a host of woodpecker-oriented activities, including: a municipal-sponsored drawing contest for school children, various art expositions, postcards, calendars, cloth bags, and presentations, among others. To consolidate this initiative and project it “from the South”, in June 2008 the Omora Park will offer a training course, led by Ximena, to teach this methodology to other conservation initiatives in the region and throughout Chile.

To learn more about how the Omora Park is working to implement charismatic flagship species for conservation see the recently published article in Magallania entitled: “Discovery and implementation of the Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) as a charismatic flagship species for the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.” Download the pdf by clicking here (in Spanish with English abstract).

NT Daily News – Conservation Students Study Abroad

By Melissa Crowe

Eighteen students ventured to what they called the “end of the world” during the winter semester, joining theories of biology and philosophy to study conservation in Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, Chile. “It’s kind of an odd trip to pick for just one credit,” Denton senior Kasi Petr said. “It’s a lot of being outside.” When people think of studying abroad, Patagonia does not usually come to mind, she said.

Kelli Moses, a Denton junior and Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance and UNT Chile Program Assistant agrees… (continue reading the entire article).