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Session II: Techniques for Rainforest Research


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Location Yungaburra, Queensland
Language English instruction
Dates 2016: July 11 – August 10
Rolling admissions. Early submissions are encouraged.
Program Cost
Click here for program costs. Program cost includes all tuition, room, board, local travel. Excludes airfare.
Financial Aid Click here for more information about need-based scholarships, loans, and travel grants.
Prerequisites No academic prerequisites; 18 years of age
Credits 4 credits (8 credits if taken with Session I)
It was great knowing that we were helping with an actual experiment that could one day help restore the rainforests that have been lost due to human interactions.        

— Jillian Smith, University of Michigan, Summer ‘13



Rainforest ecosystems provide the core of the Earth’s biodiversity and provide humans with significant services such as clean air, water, food and medicines. An understanding of the processes maintaining these high diversity systems is essential for their management and preservation.

In this second summer session, the emphasis is on learning and practicing field research methods in ecology, resource management, and social science. Examining the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation in rainforest systems and changes to the human communities living near them, students explore Australia’s tropical rainforests and develop effective field skills while learning about rainforest restoration, conservation, and sustainable development. Students learn the skills required to design and implement research projects and to present their results in scientific reports.


  • Learn sampling design, GPS and GIS techniques, plant identification, forest survey techniques, animal survey methods, and social science research techniques
  • Experience largely intact lowland forest and contrast with the fragmentation effects impacting the rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands
  • Learn rainforest research field techniques on unique flora and fauna in Australia, which are transferable to any other forest ecosystem in the world
  • Determine ecosystem types and sssess density and diversity of flora in pristine forests and restoration plots
  • Practice remote and hands-on sampling of rainforest fauna including field techniques such as trapping, behavioral observations, and spotlighting
  • Learn social science survey techniques, and how to quantifiably and qualitatively assess human resource use and how it relates to restoration and conservation
  • Gain an understanding of issues related to scientific research such as the philosophy of scientific research, the value of rainforest-related research, obtaining permits and ethics approvals, and collection of spatial information


This summer course can be taken individually (4 credits) or in combination with Session I: Rainforest Management Studies in Australia and New Zealand (8 credits). The combined summer program provides a thorough introduction to biodiversity conservation, field research techniques, and the socioeconomic factors influencing land and resource management in two countries. Students participating in both sessions receive a $1,000 discount.


The Center for Rainforest Studies lies on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands in the heart of the traditional land of the Yidinji people. Protected World Heritage forests and farmland surround the rolling hills covered in tropical foliage. Student cabins are nestled within the rainforest, which comprises the majority of the property’s 153 acres. Sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademelons, musky rat kangaroos, amethystine pythons, and other rainforest species are common. The site is alive with the sounds of the rainforest. Students share eight-person cabins with separate shower and bathroom blocks. The main building of the field station houses the classroom, dining area, and a common room.