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Marine Ecology

Overview: This hands-on field based course will focus on the ecology of local intertidal and subtidal habitats. In the first part of the course, students will study the fundamental ecological theories developed and applied in the marine environment. During regular field trips students will learn many of the essential tools of practicing marine ecologists (quadrat and transect sampling, biodiversity measurement, mark-recapture, intertidal elevation measurement, local species identification, and natural history). In the second part of the course, students will apply their new skills and knowledge first to an ongoing long-term monitoring project and then while conducting semi-independent research projects developed in conjunction with their instructors and classmates.

Research Skills: Independent projects in local habitats will allow students to apply their newly acquired ecological knowledge and to present their findings in a poster session for other BMSC users. 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 assessment and communication skills. Students will also gain some hands-on training in statistical analysis and graphing using R, a powerful, open-source statistical programming language now used by most practicing biologists.

Practical Skills: R programming and data analysis, independent assessment of scientific literature, experimental design and sampling techniques (transect and quadrat sampling, mark-recapture, species diversity assessment), local species identification, independent project planning.

Boat Use: You will be given the opportunity to drive boats if you choose to do so. Boat driving is strongly recommended but not required for Marine Ecology. The latter half of this course incorporates many activities where boat driving will be a valuable asset for students who have it. 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.

Prerequisites: Introductory Statistics, Introductory Ecology

Physical Requirements: Although 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/camping trip without any amenities (~4 hours hiking round trip, no bathroom facilities), a snorkeling trip involving swimming short distances in a wetsuit, and many trips to intertidal field sites involving getting on and off boats onto slippery rocks.

Required Textbook: There is no required textbook; readings will be provided by the instructor.

 

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