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Maximo Nivel > Study Abroad Programs > University Courses > Ecology & Conservation of Marine Mammals of the Humboldt Upwelling Ecosystem

Ecology & Conservation of Marine Mammals of the Humboldt Upwelling Ecosystem

This is a field-based course focused on the population, behavior, biology, anatomy, physiology, ecology, conservation, and evolution of marine mammals. Learn why they are so important and controversial.

Ecology & Conservation of Marine Mammals of the Humboldt Upwelling Ecosystem

Program Description

Students gain comprehensive knowledge on marine mammal ecology with special emphasis on the species inhabiting the Humboldt Current Upwelling Ecosystem just off the coast of Peru. The course takes place in the capital city of Lima and in the area of Punta San Juan located in the town of Marcona, which is 500 kilometers south of Lima. This area has been protected for more than 60 years by the Peruvian government for the exploitation of guano—a natural fertilizer made from seabird droppings.

Participants will interact with local fishermen, park rangers, and local biologists to learn about the roles of the local stakeholders who have different and often conflicting interests in the use of the protected marine area. Students work in small groups of 2 to 3 to design, collect, and analyze data from marine mammals. Group work includes addressing the potential uses of the data for marine conservation applications.

This course is open to students worldwide. Participants should be enthusiastic and keenly interested in the marine environment—ready to learn from experts about the ecology and conservation of sea lions, fur seals, dolphins, whales, and marine otters. Students should have previously completed at least one university level course in vertebrate biology or marine biology.

The 4 credit course in Ecology & Conservation of Marine Mammals includes:

– Lectures and personalized tutoring in the concepts of marine mammal biology and ecology
– Independent study and outside readings on conservation issues of marine mammals
– Fieldwork, data collection, and analysis on the behavior of marine mammals

Assessment

– Class Participation (10%)
– Midterm Exam (30%)
– Fieldwork (10%)
– Final Project (50%)

Faculty

Monica Muelbert, PhD.
Dr. Muelbert was born in Brazil and then studied her PhD at Dalhousie University in Canada, focusing on size at weaning in harbor seals. She is currently Professor and Supervisor at the Postgraduate Program in Biological Oceanography at the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil. Dr. Muelbert is a founding member of the Latin American Society of Specialists on Aquatic Mammals (SOLAMAC) and often does consulting for the Brazilian National Scientific Council. She is also a member of the Expert Group on Birds and Marine Mammals for the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR-EGBMM).

Patricia Majluf, PhD.
Dr. Majluf was born in Peru and completed her PhD while focusing on the reproductive ecology of South American fur seals at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. She is Founder and Director of the Centre for Environmental Sustainability at the UPCH and is also a founding member of the Latin American Society of Specialists on Aquatic Mammals (SOLAMAC). Dr. Majluf is an has worked as an associate research scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society since 1995. She has received various grants and awards for marine conservation in Peru (Whitley Fund for Nature, BBVA and others).