State University of New York, College of Environmental
Science and Forestry
Faculty of Environmental and Forest Biology
Class of 2000-2001 in Thornton Peak Wilderness
Amythestine Python Thornton Peak Cooper Creek
The insect, amphibian, reptile, mammal, and bird fauna are extremely
diverse and include numerous endemics
not found elsewhere in Australia or the world.
Green Weaver Tree Ants Cassowary Cairn's Birdwing
Boyd's Forest Dragon Dusky Rat Kangaroo Cooper Creek Wilderness
Because it is the rainy season, we can afford to stay in a resort, where we live dormitory style. Because few scientists have visited the region, there is much basic ecology and behavior to be discovered. Our students learn about the identification of many kinds of organism with special reference to the annoying and dangerous. These include everything from stinging trees along the paths that can irritate for months if touched, to annoying but fascinating green weaver ants that are everywhere, to the numerous deadly snakes, spiders, and crocodiles, on land or freshwater, and equally deadly cone snails, octopi, and box jellies in the Coral Sea. We always wonder, why would anyone want to go to Oz? Some of the photos might help to answer the question. To explore our lodgings in the Wet Tropics, go to: Sanctuary at Mission Beach
The elevation is considerably higher (700 to 1400m) and therefore the temperature is much cooler though the rain is just as persistent. The forest is taller, but less diverse than in the tropics. The students come to hate land leeches and cool rain, but love the scenery and brand new flora and fauna.
Everyone is glad to finally see their first “kangaroo”, though the red-necked pademelon is a bit like a toy kangaroo. There are other strange creatures which inspire scientific and human curiousity as well.
Red-Necked Pademelon Land Mullet (Skink) Lamington Blue Cray
By now everyone is more experienced at designing research projects and the incessant rain keeps people inside doing data analysis and continual laundry when not out gathering data. The lament here is, What happened to summer? (though the temperature remains in the 60’s most of the time). The joy here is a new suite of frogs, birds, fungi and insects, unlike those seen at our other rainforest. Where else could one see bowerbirds and brush turkeys, king parrots and rosellas vying with one another to take food from your hands.
King Parrot Regent Bowerbird Rainbow Lorikeets
Where else would one share a meal with a ring-tailed
possum and a carpet python looking to eat the poor possum. Where
else can you walk in the canopy and dance in a bush dance, play tarzan
and be inspired by amazing vistas- all the while doing research on animals
that are little known to science? Oz is a place where wishes are granted
and dreams come true.
Leaf-Tailed Gecko Carpet Python Orange-Eyed Tree Frog
Tarzans & Jane Leaf-Tailed Obsession Carpet Python & Fanatic
For more on our last site go to: Lamington
We hope that every student is enriched by their experience and that the course leads to the following outcomes:
1. Our students are introduced to the natural history and ecology of some of the unique habitats of tropical and subtropical Australia.
2. Students engage in novel growth experiences: whether hiking in the rainforest (and the rain), identifying the trees, fungi, ants, birds, and lizards, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef with sharks and colorful reef fish, or communing with Sea Turtles as they lay their precious eggs in the dunes.
3. Each student writes a journal so that they can reflect on their experience in order to clarify the physical, emotional, and intellectual content of their journey for themselves and share it with others.
4. Each student is required to work by themselves and in collaborative groups to identify interesting scientific issues, design a set of methods to explore the problems or issues, gather data, complete at least 3 research projects, and generate written and graphical material to communicate the results of their studies to others.
5. What we desire most is that our students are infused with a sense of wonder and even awe, such that they become passionate about conserving the reefs and rainforests of the world. Equally important is that they gain the experience and enthusiasm necessary to do the scientific fieldwork needed to understand such ecosystems and their strange and beautiful inhabitants.Those interested in applying to enroll in this 5 credit course which runs from before Christmas until mid-January can contact us via phone: 315-470-6771, mail Dr. William Shields, SUNY CESF, 1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY 13210 or email. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to right-click on the following icon and click view to see a Windows Media Player Movie (36 minutes) about the course (this is a long download unless you have a wideband or better connection):
Acknowledgements: Photo Credits: To all the students and instructors in the course and especially: Carrie Lane and Russ Busch, Class of 2000 and Kate Howles and Wellington Guzman, Class of 2001.
Additional Useful Links:
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
University of Queensland
Environment Australia Databases
James Cook University- Tropical Biology and Zoology
James Cook University- Marine Biology
Australian Biological Research Network
Wet Tropics World Heritage Area
Australian Museum Online
Return to ESF Home Page