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Coastal Community Ecology

Overview

This course will teach key ideas and concepts about how ecological and evolutionary forces shape natural communities in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The course will focus on many local examples, ranging from how birds indirectly shape terrestrial shrub communities by eating berries, to how predators influence the slow-motion battle for a piece of rocky real-estate in the intertidal. Using a hands-on approach, students will explore key topics in community ecology including island biogeography, community succession, dispersal, marine terrestrial interactions, niche theory, climate change, and techniques to measure species diversity.

Research Skills: Group projects in marine and terrestrial ecosystems will allow students to apply their newly acquired knowledge in a hands-on field-based research project and to present their findings in a poster session for other BMSC users. Identification quizzes for terrestrial plants and marine intertidal organisms will hone students’ skills as naturalists. Daily paper discussions will reinforce critical and efficient reading of the peer-reviewed scientific literature while writing workshops and a mock paper peer-review will enable students to hone their scientific communication skills. Students will also learn to use simple but powerful statistical null models and gain some hands-on training in R, a powerful, open-source (i.e. free) statistical programming language used by many practicing scientists but unknown to many undergraduate students.

Prerequisites: Introductory ecology, introductory statistics.

Physical Requirements: This course does not include any physical exertion or challenge beyond that expected in any of BMSC’s field courses. This course may include an overnight hiking trip (~3 hours round trip), a snorkeling trip involving swimming short distances in a wetsuit, and lots of trips to slippery intertidal field sites.

Boat Use: You will be given the opportunity to drive boats if you choose to do so. Boat driving is recommended but not required for Coastal Community Ecology. Students may wish to drive boats so they can collect data by boat. Students who wish to drive boats at BMSC must hold a PCOC and valid first aid certificate and will participate in an introductory boat check-out on the first day of orientation.

Textbook: None required.

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The photos speak for themselves. Photographer, Jeff Reynolds

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