BIOL 380 - Arizona Travel Course: Southwestern Desert Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Learn the science behind the range of biotic and cultural diversity and explore the management issues in Arizona
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May 4 - 24, 2020

Credits: 3
Room and Board: $930 – Includes all on-ground transportation, lodging, meals, excursions, course costs. Does not include airfare to/from Tucson, Arizona
Tuition: $1410
TOTAL: $2340*

*The non-refundable course fee ($930) is due by April 6. Full amount is due by start of course.

Three-week Course | May 4 – 24 (in Arizona from May 9 -19)

The American Southwest is one of the most biologically diverse regions in North America due to its deep complexity of elevation (sea level to 14,000’), geology, weather patterns (including harsh extremes), and its proximity to Central America.

Throughout this course, we will learn the science behind this range of biotic and cultural diversity and explore the climate change implications and management issues with local natural resource managers. Topics will be focused around desert ecology, and we will collectively investigate the complex nature of management of water, energy, materials production, and fisheries & wildlife resources in this region. Visits with management agencies will cover field methods in terrestrial species, fisheries, and endangered species. All along the way our understanding of ecology will be challenged and reinforced, and our awareness of the importance (and challenges) of cultural diversity will be enhanced.

Student Preparedness:

This trip will be a mix of activities, some of which will involve fairly strenuous hiking in backcountry. Students will need to have good physical fitness and the ability to tolerate a range of conditions very hot/dry to below freezing. Overnight backpack trips may be necessary for some field sites, but most or all camping will be tent camping with vehicle. Students should be comfortable with these arrangements.


Tentative Schedule for Arizona Trip:

May 9 - Arrive Tucson (Tucson International Airport)

May 10 - Ecology of the Lower Sonoran Zone

May 11 - Wildlife management on the border

May 11 - Buenos Aires NWR

May 13 - Desert Grasslands and water

May 14 - Biopolitics: squirrels and telescopes

May 15 - Endangered Mt. Graham Red Squirrel

May 16 - The land that made Leopold

May 17 - Mexican Wolf Recovery

May 18 - Condor Recovery

May 19 - Return

About the Instructor:

Dr. Brent Bibles​Dr. Brent Bibles

Brent Bibles arrived at Unity College in Fall 2011. He has been involved in the wildlife management profession since beginning undergraduate study at Utah State University during the 1980’s. He received his Bachelor’s in Fisheries and Wildlife from USU in 1987 and went on to receive a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. He has worked for state wildlife and federal land management agencies, as well as taught and conducted research at universities. Brent is an ornithologist with a particular interest in raptors. He has worked with several threatened or endangered species, most recently Mexican Spotted Owls and black-footed ferrets.

Brent believes in a constructivist approach to teaching and works at delivering courses using question-driven instruction. Brent’s research interests involve the influence of habitat selection and quality on population demographics, the conservation ecology of small populations, and use of methods to quantify demographic parameters with rare or hard to detect species. He currently is working with a graduate student examining the influence of habitat features on occupancy of territories by Mexican Spotted Owls in Utah. Among several projects that he is involved with on Guana Island, British Virgin Islands, Brent is looking at ways to improve population estimates of the highly endangered stout iguana.

Brent enjoys being active outdoors. He is an avid cyclist, both road and mountain, and loves to canoe, backpack, hunt and fish. He is also into historical re-enactment with a persona of a French trader en derouine of the 1750’s.