Program Details

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Dates: Winter 2020: January 22–March 5, 2020
Winter 2021: January 22–March 6, 2021

Accommodations:  Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge

Credits: 15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits

Language: English instruction

Courses: ESCI 437A, ESCI 437B, ESCI 437C

Prerequisites: One college level course of ecology or similar,
18 years of age

Program Costs

Thailand Winter 2020
$      150    Application Fee
$   5,500    Program Fee
$   3,000    Estimated In-Country Group Fee
$   1,300    Estimated Airfare
$      800    Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending

$10,750    Total Estimated Cost
Winter 2020: Program fees due by November 1, 2019 

Thailand Winter 2021
$      150    Application Fee
$   5,550    Program Fee
$   3,000    Estimated In-Country Group Fee
$   1,300    Estimated Airfare
$      800    Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending

$10,800    Total Estimated Cost
Winter 2021: Program fees due by November 1, 2020    


The Program

Team members will participate in an ecological survey of key Indo-Pacific coastal habitats in southern Thailand and Indonesia. Island field sites include the tropical island archipelagoes of Ko Surin and Ko Adang in Thailand and Togean Islands in Indonesia. In each of these locations, extensive well-developed fringing reefs surround numerous islands, providing an excellent natural classroom and research environment for understanding coral reef ecology. On several islands, effective conservation efforts have resulted in fish that are generally larger and more abundant; whereas, on other islands, long-term human impacts have changed the composition of the reef community to one that supports smaller fish and larger, more abundant invertebrates. Our Indonesia sites are deep within the "coral triangle," which holds significantly more species of fish and invertebrates (including corals) than any other place in the world.

Throughout our field studies we will research and survey selected coral reef fish species. We will conduct transects to compare particular aspects of different reef ecosystems, and, while snorkeling, use GPS and underwater digital photography to document changes over time at designated sampling sites.

Mainland coastal sites are another important component of the program. These include the Trang estuary and Khao Sok National Park, a freshwater habitat near the Andaman Coast of southern Thailand. With its extensive sea grass beds, the area around the Trang estuary supports Thailand’s only population of dugongs, a gentle, grazing marine mammal sometimes called a sea cow. Here we will research ecosystem management by evaluating strategies to mitigate existing threats to the coastal ecology.

This project presents a singular opportunity to assess issues that affect coastal and marine environments in Thailand and Indonesia, to investigate the habitat firsthand, and to develop possible strategies to solve problems posed by resource extraction, coastal development and climate change. By the end of the project each of us will have gained an in-depth understanding of many coastal and marine animal species and about indigenous seafaring culture groups.

Program Photo Gallery


More Details






Charles Chris Carpenter


PhD in Biological Ecology, UC Davis, 1991

Chris is a conservation scientist who has conducted field studies and led natural history expeditions in Asia for over twenty years. His main academic focus is the ecology and geodynamics of mountain environments. He is also interested in the marine world, environmental control of species richness and strategies for habitat conservation. He lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and teaches part of the year at Payap University. Chris has been teaching with Wildlands Studies since 1990 and has taught in China, India and Southeast Asia. He currently leads our Thailand, Nepal and Indian Himalaya programs.

Chris' Other Programs:


Thanit Kunkhajornphan


MS in Environmental Management, Mahidol University, 1996

Thanit is a cultural ecologist whose research interests include conservation and sustainability. She consults for Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and has worked throughout Southeast Asia with research organizations to develop effective survey methods and with indigenous communities to design culturally appropriate teaching materials. Thanit has been teaching with Wildlands Studies since 1998 and has taught in Thailand, China, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Thanit is currently teaching our Thailand Program.