Description                Dates/Itinerary                 Cost                 Dr. David Osgood        Dr. Barty Thompson


Course Title:  Ecological and Anthropological Field Study in Peru (EVS/LAS/IDS 298)

Instructors:  Dr. David Osgood, Biology Department
                    Dr. Barton Thompson, Sociology/Anthropology Dept.

Prerequisite: None


This course introduces participants to the basics of field studies within the Anthropological and Ecological disciplines.  The study culminates in field study focused on a Communal Reserve in the Amazon region in Peru.  Specific topics include techniques in biological surveys with emphasis on cataloging species diversity, habitat assessment, quantifying human influence, and evaluating efficacy of wildlife management techniques. Anthropological/Sociological methods include survey and demographic data collection, interviewing, direct observation and participant observation followed by methods of assessment including both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Participants will be required to propose and conduct group projects during the 10-day field component in Peru.

This course is intended to serve as an Interdisciplinary course (IDS) or as an elective for Sociology/Anthropology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, and Latin American Studies majors.  The course will be a combination of lecture and seminar format.  The culmination will be a 10-day field study on a Communal Reserve in the Amazon region of Peru.

The on-campus component of the course will involve modules on the basic techniques of field study within ecology and anthropology/sociology.   Students will be required to read seminal papers on field study within both disciplines.  At least one model lab from each discipline will be conducted in the local area as practice for the field study abroad. 

During the field component, participants and faculty will visit the lowland rainforest area in the Tahuayo-Tamshiyacu Reserve within the Amazon River Basin.  Amazonia Expeditions, a tour operator based in Tampa, FL will host our visit and we will stay in their award-winning Tahuayo Lodge.  Amazonia Expeditions specializes in hosting academic groups and as such has a very individualized approach with highly knowledgeable guides.  Please refer to the Amazonia Expeditions website for more details ( 

The Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal Reserve) (RCTT) encompasses 322,500 ha of upland and lowland rainforest situated between the Amazon and Yavari Valleys in the State of Loreto.  The Tamshiyacu and Tahuayo Rivers, both direct tributaries of the Amazon, are the two major rivers flowing through the RCTT.  The RCTT was established in 1991 as part of a special category of protection (Community Reserve) defined by the Peruvian Government. A Community Reserve is a protected area where certain locations can have human habitation and regulated resource extraction by local populations can occur in designated areas.  The RCTT was established in response to increasing natural resource extraction during the 1970s and 80s.  The action to establish the RCTT was initiated by the local communities (described below) and researchers.  These groups worked with the Ministry of Agriculture to establish a Reserve based on sustainable natural resource extraction by the local cultures. 

The RCTT is primarily comprised of upland (Terre Firma) and floodplain (Várzea) forest interspersed with whitewater rivers (rivers laden with silt eroded from the Andes), small lakes, and lagoons (Coche).  The flora and faunal diversity in this portion of the Amazon is particularly high owing in part to the area remaining forested during the Pleistocene epoch when other surrounding areas were converted to savannah habitat.  There are a reported 14 species of primates in the Reserve area, the highest of any protected area in Peru.  Additionally caiman, jaguar, peccaries and a large number of bird and insect species occupy the area.

There are 32 villages within and around the RCTT with an approximate population of 6,000 residents.  The residents are primarily a non-tribal people known collectively as Ribereños.  Ribereños include detribalized Indians and a mix of European and African heritage many of whom still practice or have adopted native practices of resource use (fishing, hunting, shifting agriculture).  The local population lives almost entirely from the resources in and around the reserve, which also includes lumber extraction and harvesting of natural fruits and nuts.  Despite a general adherence to aboriginal land use principles, the amount of inhabited area and agricultural land has increased steadily throughout the region. 


Bodmer, R.E., J.W. Penn, P.E. Puertas, L. Moya I., and T.G. Fang (1997). Linking conservation and local people through sustainable use of natural resources: Community-based management in the Peruvian Amazon. In C. Freese (ed.) Harvesting Wild Species. John Hopkins University Press, pp. 315-358.

Bodmer, R.E. 2003.  The Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (RCTT).

Hiraoka, M.  1995.  Aquatic and Land Fauna management among the floodplain  Ribereños of the Peruvian Amazon.  In T. Nishizawa and J.I. Uitto (eds.), The Fragile Tropics of Latin America:  Sustainable Management of Changing Environments, United Nations University Press, pp. 201-225.

Puertas, P. and R.E. Bodmer (1993). Conservation of a high diversity primate assemblage. Biodiversity and Conservation 2: 586-593.