Escuela de Posgrado

Conservation Biology Techniques Of Parrots And Macaws In The Peruvian Amazon


This is a field-based course in the south-eastern Peruvian Amazon on the natural history,  biology, ecology, behavior, genetics, and conservation biology of parrots and macaws. The Psittaciformes are considered the most endangered large bird order in the world, approximately 26.2% of Neotropical species are classified as threatened (critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable). This is why it is so important to teach students about this group and possibilities for their conservation.
Students will also be familiarized with scientific field research techniques from first hand of researchers of the Tambopata Macaw Project, a long-term research project on the ecology and conservation of macaws and parrots in the lowlands of south-eastern Peru. The Tambopata  Macaw Project has been working with wildlife and local communities since 1989. A long history of dedicated research and monitoring has provided many insights into various aspects of parrot and wildlife of south-eastern Peru.
This is a university-accredited course and is intended for enthusiastic individuals with keen interest  in  the  tropical environment. This course  is  suitable for M.Sc.,  undergraduate students in the last 3 years of their degree, and individuals who want to learn from experts about parrots and macaws of the Peruvian Amazon.



By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand concepts of general parrot biology and ecology.
  • Design and collect scientific data on wild populations of parrots and macaws.
  • Respond conservation issues in a tropical environment.



By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand concepts of general parrot biology and ecology.
  • Design and collect scientific data on wild populations of parrots and macaws.
  • Respond conservation issues in a tropical environment.


This course has a combination of:

  • Personalized teaching: Students will receive lectures and personalized tutoring by professors on their group projects throughout the course.
  • Independent study: Students will be given reading material on all topics for before and during the course. Students will have to read independently before lecture topics and will have to research literature for their final projects.
  • Experiences in situ: Field activities will allow students to interact with local people, park rangers and local field biologists which will allow them to better understand the roles of local stakeholders that have different interests in the use of tropical rainforests of Peru.
  • Group discussion:  Students will have to participate in daily discussions that combine concepts learned in reading material with lecture topics and lessons learned in the field.




Module 1: Tropical Ecology and Ecosystem
This ecology workshop covers the physical characteristics of a tropical rainforest through the example of the Amazon Basin, the climatic reasons for the existence of rainforests, the geological history of the Neotropics, and the meaning of Pleistoscene Refuges.
We will also discuss the horizontal and vertical layout of rainforests around the research center. The reasons behind the stratification of the forest in levels (ground, understory, mid-canopy, canopy) are explored, as well as the properties inherent to each. Present habitats are also defined and visited: riverine forest, palm swamps, bamboo forests, tree fall gaps, terra firme forest, floodplain forest, etc.


Module 2: Parrot Biology and Conservation Management
This module is the core of the course. It will teach about the biology, natural history, ecology, behavior, population biology, and conservation issues of parrots and macaws, and present the newest findings in the topic from first hand of the experts. The module will also present the modern techniques of conservation genetics that can be used for conservation management of parrot species. Tracking techniques of macaws will also be discussed with findings of the Tambopata Macaw Project.


Module 3: A case study in the Peruvian Amazon - Madre de Dios
This module will present in depth information about the Department of Made de Dios, where the Tambopata National Reserve is located. Its history is studied from pre-Columbian times, past the rubber boom and oil explorations to the current conservation and ecotourism frenzy. A profile of the educational and health services is discussed before looking into the future with the presence of the Inter-oceanic Highway. These new conservation threats, opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve will also be presented.


Module 4: Field projects - design and data collection
With researchers in action: This module will cover a different array of methods on how to design and collect data in the field of parrot research through observation and sample collection in situ. The group will accompany the researchers of the Tambopata Macaw Project for their everyday work in the field, doing: clay-lick monitoring, parrot population census in the forest, phenology work, monitoring artificial and natural nests of macaws, measuring macaw chicks, etc. The most enthusiastic ones will also have the opportunity to learn how to climb the nests by using single-rope ascending.



George Olah, Msc

George was graduated as a Zoologist M.Sc. at the Szent István University, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, in Budapest, Hungary.  Now he is a PhD Student in the Australian National University and his research topic is the Demography and Population Genetic of Large Macaws, under the supervision of Rob Heinsohn and Don Brightsmith.
Previously he has participated in several field research projects dealing with parrots and macaws in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru.During the field season of 2008/2009 he was the field leader of TRC and became a staff member of the Tambopata Macaw Project.


Donald Brightsmith, Ph.D.

Don did his PhD in Manu, Peru, and has been involved in parrot and macaw research ever since. He took over the Tambopata Macaw Project in 1999. Since then he has led the project from strength to strength and published a host of ground breaking papers on various aspects of macaw breeding, reintroduction and clay lick ecology. He has been on hand to teach, inspire and lead scores of Peruvian and international students and volunteers. Previously with Duke University, he made the move to Texas A&M in 2005.

Admission Schedule 


From 20  August to 15 February 2013


From March 1 to March 9, 2013


Information And Registration

Escuela de Postgrado Víctor Alzamora Castro
Phones: (51-1) 619-7700 anexo 3435 - 3437
Phones: (51-1) 626-9400 anexo 1111

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