Australian Ecosystems

Dr. Ruth Beattie (More Info)

Australian Ecosystems

Program Dates:
December 26, 2019 - January 9, 2020

Honors Credit:

WKU Course:


Course Description:
Swim with turtles at the Great Barrier Reef, observe kangaroos and koalas in the wild, participate in a conservation project to preserve a koala habitat, and hike in the tropical rainforests of Queensland. This course will focus on the biodiversity of selected Australian terrestrial ecosystems (tropical rainforests, eucalyptus forests and mangroves) and the marine environment of the Great Barrier Reef, and will include an examination of the ecological consequences of human activities on these ecosystems. 

One semester of biology

Physical Activity Requirements:
Should be able to (a) carry own luggage through airports and to hotel room, (b) scramble over rough terrain, and (c) walk at least 3-5 miles on most days.

Course Highlights:
Stalk kangaroos in the wild and observe their behavior and mating rituals. Participate in a koala research project while observing koalas in their natural habitat. Participate in a koala habitat preservation project – removing the invasive boneseed from the eucalyptus forest habitat. Learn about reef ecology as you snorkel and dive at the Great Barrier Reef Learn about rainforest ecology as you hike through the old-growth tropical rainforests of Queensland. Observe the Phillip Island penguins as they come to shore and return to their nests after a day of fishing. Explore the mangroves of Queensland. Learn about the early social and ecological history of Australia. Conduct a research project comparing the various habitats studied during the trip (tropical rainforests, Great Barrier Reef, tropical mangroves, eucalyptus forests, Atherton tablelands). The course counts as an upper-level elective course for biology majors and those pursuing majors in other life science disciplines. It can also count as a non-majors course.