Marine Ecology for Citizen Scientists

Marine Ecology for Citizen Scientists Syllabus

WEEK 1:  Ecological Processes

This course will provide participants with an overview of the physical and biological features of a unique coastal marine environment, the Gulf of Maine. Participants will develop a familiarity with local intertidal organisms, and we will use a combination of field activities as well as substantial time in the lab for more careful observation and experimentation to learn about the organisms that inhabit the intertidal zone.  We will focus our attention on the ecological processes involving creatures living along Maine’s rocky shoreline.  We will be exploring a range of ecological questions.  Which species are best at competing for limiting resources?  Which are best at coping with the physical challenges of an environment that is periodically exposed to the air and pummeled by waves?  Who are the voracious predators and what do they prefer to feed on?  What challenges do planktonic larvae face when they metamorphose into juveniles and enter the community on the rocky shore?  To investigate these questions, we will spend time in the field using the methods of intertidal ecology to collect data on patterns of abundance and diversity along the shore of Bar Island.  We will then run through some introductory-level statistics to help us quantify the patterns we find.  We will finish the week with a field trip to Anemone Cave to initiate a long-term monitoring project, which is of interest to Acadia National Park. 

WEEK 2:  Organismal Diversity

This course will provide participants with an overview of the physical and biological features of a unique coastal marine environment, the Gulf of Maine. Participants will develop a familiarity with local intertidal organisms, and we will use a combination of field activities as well as substantial time in the lab for more careful observation and experimentation to learn about the organisms that inhabit the intertidal zone.  Diversity of animal form, ecology, and behavior will be emphasized during this course.  A week of spectacular morning low tides will give us access to a range of intertidal habitats and the organisms that live there.  We will be looking carefully at external and internal anatomy to investigate the diverse ways that animals have evolved to thrive along Maine’s shores.  Expect to see snails, sponges, sea slugs, clams, mussels, worms, sea urchins, crabs, starfish, barnacles, and more.  Discussions in the classroom and field will put these organisms into ecological and evolutionary context.  While the emphasis will be on creatures we can directly observe in the field and lab, we will also make time to learn about creatures inhabiting other environments including coral reefs and the deep sea as a way to illustrate unique adaptations to diverse challenges.  

Daily schedule.pdf