Tropical marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangrove forests are biodiversity ‘hotspots’; they are home to an astounding variety of marine organisms, provide critical support for the livelihoods and food sources of millions of people, but are also highly vulnerable to human impacts such as climate change and overfishing. This winter study travel course will offer a unique combination of classroom, laboratory, and hands-on experiences in the scientific study, management, and restoration of tropical marine ecosystems using the Bahamian island of Eleuthera as a case study. Eleuthera is rich in marine diversity but still in the process of implementing management policies and practices for its many fisheries. As such, it presents a unique opportunity for students to experience conservation-in-action. Students will gain an understanding of the structure, function, and major threats facing tropical marine ecosystems. They will develop practical skills in conducting field surveys of tropical marine species and in implementing management and restoration strategies on the Island. They will also engage with the local community to understand the social and economic impacts of marine conservation policy and to explore alternative sustainable development strategies for subsistence fisheries that rely on these marine ecosystems.
Students are expected to participate in 2 days travel and 13 days of research on the Island. The daily schedule will include field research and independent study. Students are expected to devote time each day to researching and writing a final paper that integrates their field studies, interviews, and policy research. Students will also use this time to prepare and deliver an oral slide presentation on their research the last two days of the trip. After return to Williamstown, students will be given 5 days to finish writing their final papers.
Grading: pass/fail only
short paper and final project or presentation
BIOL 203 or ENVI 101 or MAST 311 or BIOL 413/ENVI 423 or permission of instructor
preference will be given to juniors and seniors
cost of books
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
TRVL Winter Study Travel Course