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Welcome to Field Camp!

Our intrepid leaders in Rarotonga. Prof Travis Horton from the University of Canterbury who will lead the megafauna exercise is on the left. Dr. Sharyn Goldstein from the University of Canterbury who is leading the reef health exercise in Rarotonga and the marine section in module 3 is in the middle. Finally, ES Director Dan Hikuroa from the Unversity of Auckland and will be on almost all of field camp is on the right.

Our intrepid leaders in Rarotonga.
(L to R: Travis Horton, Sharyn Goldstein, Dan Hikuroa)

As we wait for the students to arrive, it seems like a good time to introduce the Frontiers Abroad Earth Systems (ES) Science Field Camp. The ES Field Camp is the beginning of a New Zealand study abroad program. This year, we have 1 Japanese, 1 Brazilian, and 24 American students spread over a variety of disciplines including biology, physics, environmental science, anthropology, and economics.

The ES Camp is divided into five separate modules which often correspond to a new location. Our first module, where we are meeting the students, is held in Rarotonga, which is the largest of the Cook Islands. Home to over 6,000 people, Rarotonga is an old volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. During this module, students will be introduced to the islands, each other, Earth Systems Science, field notebooks, and field camp. The week is led by Dr. Dan Hikuroa from the University of Auckland, Dr. Travis Horton from the University of Canterbury, and Dr. Sharyn Goldstein from the University of Canterbury. When we pick up the students, we will take them around the island both to get a sense of where they are and stop to begin our field notes. After the students have been oriented, we will be conducting two exercises on the beach. Sharyn will then lead an exercise in the reefs examining the reef health. This involves snorkeling both transects and around the coral heads while taking photos and counting the number of fish seen. At the same time, Dan is leading an exercise on land about coastal geomorphology. These exercises will help the students write their papers about the effect of a 0.5 m and 1°C increase in air temperature on Rarotonga. During the second half of the week, Travis will be leading the students on a data exercise about migratory sea animals. The students will also be given the opportunity to go examine archeological sites in the mountains that are owned by the Highland Paradise. Highland Paradise will allow the students to begin learning about the anthrosphere and introduce some island culture. Other highlights of the week include watching Dan present at the University of the South Pacific on Maori inclusion in science, the Cross the Island hike, and a cultural evening at the Highland Paradise. At the end of the week, the students will fly to Auckland for their first glimpse of New Zealand!

Module two will be shorter than module one and take place in two locations on the North Island. After landing in Auckland, the students will be driven to Mt. Ruapehu for the next two days. During this time, Dan will introduce the idea of a cultural landscape. We will also be hiking the Tongariro Crossing while discussing hazardscapes. The second half of the module will be taking place in Waimoto where we will be staying with Dan’s iwi. This location is particularly special since the students will be interacting with and learning from Dan’s iwi in addition to doing an exercise on land use along the Waimoto River. This module ends as we fly down to the South Island for the remainder of field camp.

Sharyn will be joining us again as we head up to Kaikoura after landing in Christchurch. She will be leading the students through more fish transects in Kaikoura in addition to teaching the students how to conduct plankton counts. Kaikoura is known for its wildlife, so the students will also be doing seal colony counts. Dr. Jody Weir from the University of Canterbury will also be joining us. Her terrestrial biodiversity exercises will include tree quadrangles. Hiking in this location will include both the Kaikoura Peninsula and Mt. Fyffe. Activities to look forward to are a dolphin swim and an evening penguin watch.

The students will be headed inland to Cass for the next module. Dr. Peyman Zawar-Reza and Dr. Angus McIntosh from the University of Canterbury will be introducing the students to aquatic ecology and terrestrial biodiversity. Although camp has come inland, it will still be a wet week since the “hike” of the week is up Cave Stream.

Finally, the students will head once more back to the beach. This time, camp will be moving to Banks Peninsula where they will be helping with trail clearing for a land trust. At the end of this module, everyone will be back in Christchurch for a night. The students attending the University of Canterbury will then prepare and begin their semester abroad. At the same time, Dan will bring the University of Auckland students back to Auckland for a little more field work before their semester begins a week later.

Hopefully, we have intrigued you enough that you join us remotely on the 2016 ES adventure for the next four weeks. Keep checking back for more posts and photos!



ES TA 2016