Summer Field Program - Course Offerings

2019 Course Offerings:

Summer Intersession:

*Summer intersession classes will be taught in a hybrid format. The first week of the session, May 13-17, will be conducted online. Instructors will utilize email and USM’s online learning platform (Canvas) to deliver lectures, course materials, conduct video chats, or administer quizzes and tests. Access to a computer and reliable internet connection are required to complete the first week of the course. The remaining two weeks of the course, May 20-31, will be conducted face-to-face at GCRL’s campus.

Barrier Island Ecology

This field course will familiarize students with concepts of coastal ecology with emphasis on the diversity of plant and animal communities unique to the northern Gulf of Mexico barrier island ecosystem. Field excursions to barrier islands off Mississippi and Florida coasts will be conducted during this course and cover topics such as: marsh and barrier island vegetation, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, mammals, birds and reptiles, brackish pond and lagoon communities, submerged seagrass communities, intertidal and shallow subtidal communities, and geologic processes of island dynamics. Prerequisites: background in biology, botany, or geology recommended. COA 448/448L: Barrier Island Ecology, 4 credit hours (2/2)

2019 Syllabus

Cetacean Behavior (Dolphin and Whale)

Students will learn tools and techniques used in the systematic observation and documentation of delphinid behavior in the wild. Course includes both classroom lecture and field studies focused primarily on dolphins of the Mississippi Sound. Prerequisites: none. COA 444: Cetacean Behavior, 4 credit hours

2018 Syllabus


Coastal Restoration

This course will provide an overview of coastal restoration along the Gulf Coast. Through lectures and field excursions to restoration sites in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, students will gain first-hand experience with many different restoration techniques at both large and small scales and across a variety of habitats (e.g., marsh, oyster, mangrove, seagrass, dunes, springs). Students will also get an overview of how to identify needs, set goals, plan, design, implement, monitor, and evaluate restoration projects. The first week of the course will consist of learning the science behind coastal restoration through interactive online lectures, case-study reviews, etc. The next two weeks will be primarily field-based and will involve several overnight trips. Prepare to get your hands dirty and learn all about coastal restoration! Prerequisites: 2 semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 490/590 Special Topics: Coastal Restoration, 4 credit hours


Field Exercises in Coastal Herpetology

The coastal plain of the Southeast boasts an outstanding diversity of amphibians and reptiles, making the region an excellent place to study these often reclusive and elusive creatures. This course provides students with an introduction to herpetology through lectures, discussions of original research papers, and a class project. Topics covered include the ecology, evolution, life history, diversity, behavior, and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. There will also be field excursions highlighting the methods and techniques for capturing and studying amphibians and reptiles. Prepare to get wet and muddy while exploring the marshes, pine woods, bayous, and other habitats as we search for and learn about the amphibians and reptiles of the northern Gulf Coast. Prerequisites: BSC 110/110L: Principles of Bio Science I and BSC 111/111L: Principles of Bio II or permission of instructor. COA 412/512: Field Exercises in Coastal Herpetology, 4 credit hours

2019 Syllabus

Summer Session I:

Elasmobranch Biology (Shark Biology)

This specialized course will provide students with an overview of elasmobranch (sharks, skates, and rays) biology, ecology, and taxonomy. Lectures will cover such topics as evolution, anatomy and physiology, sensory systems, behavior, and ecology. Students will be introduced to the diversity of elasmobranchs and will learn how to identify species. Special emphasis will be given to the species common to the Gulf of Mexico. Laboratory work will consist of several inshore and offshore collecting trips as well as dissections. Prerequisites: Marine Biology and Marine Ichthyology or permission of instructor. COA 422/522, 422L/522L: Elasmobranch Biology, 5 credit hours (3/2)

2018 Syllabus
2018 Graduate Syllabus

Marine Conservation

This course will introduce students to conservation biology and ecology with a focus on marine and coastal ecosystems. Topics may include biodiversity, marine ecosystem processes and threats, conservation of habitat and species, and human impacts, solutions, and policy. The course will consist of lectures, field trips, and laboratory exercises designed to provide students with hands-on experience in marine conservation biology. Prerequisites: 2 semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 450/550, 450L/550L: Marine Conservation, 5 credit hours (3/2)

2018 Syllabus

Marine Invertebrate Zoology

A concentrated study of the marine and estuarine invertebrates from the Mississippi Sound and contiguous continental shelf of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Emphasis is on structure, classification, phylogenic relationships, larval development and functional processes. Prerequisites: 16 hours of biology or permission of instructor. COA 428/528, 428L/528L: Marine Invertebrate Zoology, 6 credit hours (3/3)

2017 Syllabus


Marine Science I - Oceanography

This course provides a multidisciplinary foundation in oceanography, specifically the terminology, principles, processes, relationships, and phenomena pertaining to three of its traditional sub-disciplines: physical, geological, and chemical oceanography. The importance of the interaction of biotic and abiotic processes in the ocean will be addressed through exploration of timely issues in ocean science. Prerequisites: College algebra, 8 hours of chemistry, and 8 hours of biology or permission of instructor. COA 300, 300L: Marine Science I – Oceanography, 5 credit hours (3/2)

2017 syllabus

Summer Session II:

Marine Animal Behavior

This specialized course will provide an in-depth exploration of animal behavior in marine organisms, including the physiological and ecological aspects of behavior. The course will introduce students to techniques for observing animal behavior in the field and laboratory, designing and conducting behavioral experiments, and collecting and analyzing behavioral data. The course will consist of lectures, field trips, and laboratory projects designed to provide students with hands-on experience in marine animal behavior. Prerequisites: 2 semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 442/542, 442L/542L – Marine Animal Behavior, 5 credit hours (3/2)

2018 Syllabus

Marine Ichthyology

Marine Ichthyology is an intensive marine biological field course which engages students to collect and identify marine fishes in numerous habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. Students experience a variety of land-based and vessel-based collection techniques such as seining, cast netting, hook and line fishing, trawling, trolling, dip netting, and many others. Students must work effectively alone and in teams and participate in field expeditions to complete the course objectives. Successful students gain an appreciation for taxonomic identities of fishes and the synergism between abiotic and biotic factors that drive marine fish distribution and faunal diversity in northern Gulf of Mexico. Prerequisites: 16 hours of biology or permission of instructor. COA 421/521, 421L/521L: Marine Ichthyology, 6 credit hours (3/3)

2018 Syllabus

Marine Mammals

An overview of the biology of marine mammals (cetaceans, pinnipeds, sirenians, sea otters, and the polar bear) including their classification, evolutionary history, anatomy, physiology, behavior, conservation and management. Prerequisites: 16 hours of biology or permission of instructor. COA 443/543, 443L/543L: Marine Mammals, 5 credit hours (3/2)

2016 syllabus


Marine Sciences II - Marine Biology

An ecological approach is taken to understand the biology of marine systems with emphasis on local organisms; their habitats, life cycles and survival strategies. Prerequisites: 8 hours of biology or permission of instructor. COA 301, 301L: Marine Sciences II – Marine Biology,
5 credit hours (3/2)

2017 Syllabus



Research Study Program

Positions are available in both Session I and II

Summer Field Program student using a cast net to collect salt marsh specimens

Research Study Program allows upper-level undergraduate students an opportunity to gain valuable experience in designing a research project, sampling, analyzing data and presenting research findings. Research options encompass a broad spectrum of disciplines in coastal sciences that include Marine Aquaculture, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Biomedicine, Marine Ecology, Marine Education, Marine Fisheries, Marine Pathology and Marine Toxicology. This course could easily form the basis of a senior or honors project. Prerequisites: Four semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 492: Special Problems - Research. One to six hours credit is available and is assigned by the instructor.