Ecology and Conservation Supercourse

Ecology and Conservation in Practice, Intensive Field Course


Spring Quarter 2023

Course to be conducted in California Natural Reserves and Baja California, Sur


Why California and Baja California?

California, including the Baja California Peninsula, is a global biodiversity hotspot and known for its diversity of ecosystems including islands, coastal scrub and sage, lagoons, sub-alpine and alpine forests, tundra, and desert islands, subtropical scrublands, and deserts.  Unfortunately, human development and its impacts have profoundly impacted many parts of this ecological landscape – from direct development to contamination to introduced species.   This course utilizes University of California Natural Reserve system and islands of Baja California Sur as natural laboratories to teach advanced ecological principles and innovative approaches to conservation.

What is the course content?

Dr. Don Croll of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Dr. Gage Dayton of the UC Natural Reserve System will jointly teach this 19-unit supercourse. It will focus on field methods, ecology, and conservation. The course will be equivalent to the content of four on-campus courses. A large component of the course will consist of written and oral presentations. Through class lecture, discussion, student projects, and field research projects, you will gain an understanding of: 1) fundamental concepts in ecology; 2) principles of conservation biology; 3) geomorphology and climate; 4) field research techniques; and 5) field techniques for conservation. 

Course Costs

This course will require a course fee of approximately $1,597 for food, local travel, and field research supplies. In addition, there will be costs for airfare and foreign travel. Limited financial aid will be available for qualified students.

What is the approach?

The course will begin with lectures and field research based at the UCSC Reserves (Año Nuevo, Younger Lagoon, Campus, and Big Creek).  Using this background, we will embark on an extended field trip (2 weeks) to the islands of Baja California Sur where we will further hone on conservation research skills and address more specific questions. We then return to UCSC campus for 2 weeks of field research project write-up and presentation. The course sequence (ENVS 109ABCD or BIOE 151ABCD) satisfies the senior exit requirement, two upper-division electives, and one GE course for Environmental Studies majors; and satisfies 3 upper-division electives requirements for Biology majors.

How do I apply?

We are inviting highly motivated students interested in getting hands-on, rigorous experience in conducting field research in ecology and conservation to submit an application for the course.  Please fill out the online application here: or paste the following url into a web browser:

Important Dates

  1. Informational meeting -- November 3, 2022 – at 12pm, Noon
  2. Application due -- November 6th at 11:59pm
  3. Notification of application status -- November 11th


Note: For students in the ENVS single major, ENVS 109ABCD (Supercourse) can count for your senior exit requirement and two upper division electives OR it could count as three upper division electives, if you plan to do another senior exit requirement. For ENVS/Bio combined majors, you may be able to use the upper division electives towards either ENVS or BIO, depending on what you need. Check in with advising if you have questions about this!