Biodiversity, Water Resources and Climate Change Impacts in the Tropical Andes of Peru

General Information

This course is organized by the Mining Engineering School at PUCP and is primarily dedicated to advanced international students of earth, natural and environmental sciences. Classes consist of integrative topics divided into two thematic blocks with focus on biogeography and hydro-glaciology. The course will be held in two different natural regions of Peru in order to provide a holistic view of actual socio-environmental challenges in the Tropical Andes and its western foothills.

The central course objective is to provide students with interdisciplinary theoretical and applied key knowledge and process comprehension of interlinked drivers which determine biodiversity and current impacts of global change in the tropical Andes of Peru.

  1. Outcomes

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

  • Explain concepts and importance of ecology, biogeography and biodiversity
  • Analyze ocean interactions with coastal and Andean climate linked to prevailing ecosystems
  • Comprehend the basics of tropical glaciers and their relationship with water supply in the Andes and coast of Peru
  • Link interactions between atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and cryospher
  1. Classes, field trips, city tours and GIS-assisted learning

The students will acquire expert knowledge in theoretical, practical and computer-assisted practice lessons additionally considering the cultural background of Peru. Applied features of the course are:

  • Pre-Colombian Peruvian history: National Museum of Arqueology, Anthropology and History, Pueblo Libre, Lima
  • City center tour: go back in time and explore old colonial and republican Lima
  • Coastal climate and biodiversity: Lomas de Lachay fog oases at the Pacific Andean foothills
  • Tropical Glaciers: trip to Pastoruri (~5200 m a.s.l.), one of the emblematic Cordillera Blanca glaciers and its surroundings (colored lake, Puya raimondii plants, etc.)
  • Glacier lakes: Palcacocha lake (4566 m a.s.l.), risk analysis and current monitoring efforts
  • Use of Andean water resources: visit of the 263 MW Cañon del Pato hydropower plant
  • High mountain risks: visit of the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood – Early Warning System (GLOF-EWS) control center at Carhuaz
  • Applied change detection in high mountains: GIS-assisted analysis of glacier and lake changes in the Peruvian Andes


Fabian Drenkhan studied Physical Geography at the University of Stuttgart, Germany and is a partial time lecturer in the Mining Engineering and Geography Program at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). His expertise lies in High Mountain Geography (water resources, glaciology and ecology), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing. Currently he works with the Department of Physical Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland in the “Glacier Project 513” with focus on water resources, glaciology and risk assessment in the Cordillera Blanca (Ancash) and Cordillera Vilcanota (Cusco), Peru. He is member of the Biogeosciences Research Group at PUCP.

Martín Timaná is an Assistant Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. He holds a PhD in Plant Biology from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ms. Sc. in Biology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His research scope is the ecology, biogeography and conservation of high Andean plants.  As part of his work, he has travelled extensively in Peru, including the Peruvian Amazon as a plant collector for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. He was a research scientist for the US-based NatureServe’s Andes-Amazon Project, which developed methods for identifying centers of endemism in Peru and Bolivia. At PUCP he teaches several subjects among others biogeography, general ecology, biodiversity and conservation biology at the graduate and undergraduate level. He is also member of the Biogeosciences Research Group.



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Syllabus 2016

PUCP Mining Engineering School


Lima and Huaraz (Cordillera Blanca, Ancash)


12 days

Session Dates

July 9th to July 20th



6 credits

Language of Instruction



Fabian Drenkhan, Diploma (M.Sc.) in Physical Geography by University of Stuttgart, Germany.

Martín Timaná, Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Texas at Austin, USA.