Course Offerings - 2013 Summer Field Program

Note: The Summer Field Program will be offered again in 2013. Details will be posted later this fall. In the mean time, 2012 program details are provided for reference.

Three sessions of courses are offered in 2012.

Summer Mini-Session, May 14-25, 2012

Hands-on marine biology field work during the GCRL Summer Field Program

Barrier Island Ecology

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This field course will familiarize students with concepts of coastal ecology with emphasis on the diversity of plant and animal communities unique to the Mississippi Sound barrier island ecosystem. Students will travel to the Mississippi’s Gulf Coast barrier islands 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: Three semester’s science or permission of instructor. Dr. Jerry McLelland. Barrier Island Ecology; COA 448/448L. Three semester hours credit (1/2). Course field fee is $400.

Coastal Herpetology

flyer   COA 490 syllabus    COA 590 syllabus

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 will provide students with an introduction to herpetology through lectures and associated readings, discussions of original research papers, and a class project. Topics covered will include the ecology, evolution, life history, diversity, behavior, and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. There will also be many field excursions highlighting the methods and techniques for capturing and studying amphibians and reptiles. Be prepared to get wet and muddy since we will be 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: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Matthew Chatfield. Special Topics: Coastal Herpetology; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $100.

Coastal Ornithology

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This course explores the highly diverse avian habitats found along the Mississippi Gulf Coast with a focus on the study of avian ecology in the field. Class activities will include a significant emphasis on the use of both sight and sound as means of field identification. During this course students will explore barrier island nesting grounds, boat the pristine Pascagoula River area, and explore local marshes and other unique coastal habitats. Students will also be introduced to a variety of ornithology field techniques including bird-banding, call-broadcast surveys, and monitoring methodologies. Prerequisites: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor (Ecology recommended but not required). Dr. Mark Woodrey. Coastal Ornithology; COA 411/511. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $100.

Dolphin and Whale Behavior

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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: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Jeffrey Siegel. Cetecean Behavior; COA 444. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $400.

Environmental Photography

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This course is designed to develop an awareness of our environment, and convey this understanding through the medium of photographic image. This class includes studies of the structure and function of ecosystems (emphasizing aquatic environments), and examines selected environmental concerns through daily field trips. Further, students in this course will emphasize nature at the seldom observed macroscopic level for a fuller understanding of inter-relationships in the environment. Although no formal coursework is prerequisite, it is expected that students enrolled in this class will have a basic awareness of environmental issues. This course is designed to appeal to students across disciplines. Dr. James Wetzel. Special Topics: Environmental Photography; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $100.

Marine Toxicology

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This course will introduce students to the concepts of aquatic toxicology. Lectures will cover history and basic concepts of toxicology with a focus on aquatic issues, modern molecular techniques commonly used in modern toxicology applications, an overview of common xenobiotics, and experimental design. Laboratories will focus on performing basic toxicological skills, including exposure setup and monitoring, endpoint selection, and basic molecular techniques (nucleic acid isolation, cDNA synthesis, qPCR, and protein analysis). Prerequisites: One semester biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Robert Griffitt. Special Topics: Marine Toxicology; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Please note that there is not a field fee associated with this course.

First Term, May 29 – June 26, 2012

Lab work during the GCRL Summer Field Program for marine biology studies

Marine Aquaculture

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An introduction to principles and technologies applied to the culture of commercially important marine organisms. History, economic importance, basic components of marine aquaculture systems, a survey of species and systems, principles of water quality for culturing facilities, and diseases of marine organisms as they relate to marine aquaculture are presented. Aquabusiness concepts are also examined. For graduate credit, students must undertake a research component and complete related laboratory work. Prerequisites: Two semesters biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Jeffrey Lotz, Dr. Reginald Blaylock and Dr. Eric Saillant. Marine Aquaculture; COA 424/524, 424L/524L. Six semester hours credit (3/3). Course field fee is $100.

Marine Biology

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An ecological approach to understanding the biology of marine systems with emphasis on local organisms; their habitats, life cycles and survival strategies. Prerequisites: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. James Wetzel. Marine Sciences II: Marine Biology; COA 301, 301L. Five semester hours undergraduate credit (3/2). Course field fee is $400.

Marine Ecology

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A study of marine organisms and their relationships to the environment, including such topics as primary production, populations and communities, biogeochemical cycles, trophic ecology, larval ecology, and human influences. Laboratory involves weekly quantitative studies implemented as class projects. Prerequisites: Four semester’s science or permission of instructor. Dr. Chet Rakocinski. COA 446/546, 446L/546L. Five semester hours credit (3/2). Course field fee is $400.

Marine Invertebrate Zoology

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A concentrated study of the marine and estuarine invertebrates from 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: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Richard Heard. COA 428/528, 428L/528L. Six semester hours credit (3/3). Course field fee is $400.

Parasites of Marine Animals

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Parasites of Marine Animals introduces students to some animal parasites (protozoans, helminths, some obscure worm-like groups, and crustaceans) present in the estuarine environment of the northern Gulf of Mexico. The course is intended to give an appreciation for the diversity of parasites and will emphasize their interrelationships, taxonomy, life histories, ecology, and importance in aquaculture. Students will learn techniques for collecting and preparing specimens as well as how to identify parasites from major groups to the generic level. The course is intended for undergraduate biology majors and graduate students and is a laboratory and field oriented course. Prerequisites: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Stephen Curran. Parasites of Marine Animals, COA 453/553, 453L/553L. Six semester hours credit (3/3). Course field fee is $400.

Second Term, June 27 – July 27, 2012

Searching for dolphins in Mississippi Sound - USM Summer Field Program

All Rivers Flow to the Sea: Survey of Aquatic Ecosystems

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The purpose of this course is to study the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats. Field trips will be conducted to freshwater river, lake, estuarine, bay and open gulf habitats to study and collect the biota, as well as measure water chemistry, temperature, and other physical characteristics. Students will conduct laboratory studies on the adaptations of estuarine organisms to survive in habitats where there are diurnal changes in salinity. Prerequisites: Two semesters biology and one semester chemistry or permission of instructor. Dr. Stan Eisen. Special Topics: Survey of Aquatic Ecosystems, COA 490/590. Five semester hours credit. Course field fee is $100.

Marine Biology

flyer    syllabus

An ecological approach to understanding the biology of marine systems with emphasis on local organisms; their habitats, life cycles and survival strategies. Will include specimen collection, boat trips to Horn Island, trawling, trips to local habitats and marine aquarium set up and maintenance. Prerequisites: Two semesters biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Gregory Thurmon. Marine Sciences II: Marine Biology; COA 301, 301L. Five semester hours undergraduate credit (3/2). Course field fee is $400.

Marine Ichthyology

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Marine Ichthyology is an intensive marine biology field course requiring physical activity in the ocean and engages students to seek out and identify marine fishes of estuaries, lagoons, grassbeds, nearshore waters, and pelagic waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Students experience a variety of land-based (beaches, barrier island lagoons, estuaries, nearshore coastal waters of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida) and ship-board (off barrier islands of Horn Island and Ship Island as well as in pelagic/oceanic localities ranging from 10-200 km offshore) collection techniques that include seining, cast netting, spearing, hook and line fishing, trawling, trolling, dip netting, and fish traps. 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: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Ash Bullard. Marine Ichthyology, COA 421/521, 421L/521L. Six semester hours credit (3/3). Course field fee is $400.

Marine Mammals

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An overview of the biology of marine mammals (cetaceans, pinnipeds, sirenians, otters, and polar bear) including their systematics, adaptive evolution, functional morphology, zoogeography, ecology, life history and reproduction, diving physiology, population dynamics, conservation, and additional topics. Prerequisites: Three semesters of biology including Marine Biology or Marine Ichthyology or permission of instructor. Dr. Peter Adam. Marine Mammals, COA 443/543, 443L/543L. Five semester hours credit (3/2). Course field fee is $400.

Oceanography

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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; one semester chemistry; one semester biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Jessica Kastler. Marine Science I: Oceanography, COA 300, 300L. Five semester hours undergraduate credit (3/2). Course field fee is $400.

Shark Biology

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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: Three semesters of biology, including Marine Biology or permission of instructor. Jill Hendon. Elasmobranch Biology, COA 422/522, 422L/522L. Five semester hours credit (3/2). Course field fee is $400.

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