GCRL Field Course Offerings

2017 Spring Mini Session

PLEASE NOTE: The 2016 syllabi are listed below for reference. Each 2017 syllabus will be listed as soon as possible.

Barrier Island Ecology - January 3-13, 2017

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, Alabama, and Louisiana coasts are planned for this course and will 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 semesters of science or permission of instructor. COA 448/448L: Barrier Island Ecology; three credit hours (1/2). Instructor: Dr. Jessica Kastler

Syllabus

Sirenian Biology - January 3-13, 2017

This field course will explore the biology of Sirenians (manatees and dugongs) through lecture, discussion, group research projects, and a multi-night trip to Florida to observe Florida manatees in the wild. Sample topics include anatomy, physiology, behavior, evolution of Sirenians, and sensory capabilities. An emphasis will be placed on conservation issues and the class will explore select case studies in depth.  Additionally, this course will delve into scientific primary literature and cover basic data analysis techniques.  Prerequisites: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 490/590: Special Topics – Sirenian Biology; three credit hours. Instructor: Dr. Athena Rycyk

Syllabus

Tropical Biology in the Galapagos — January 1-12, 2018

Study in Darwin’s footsteps! This program will cover tropical biology topics, including terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The majority of the program will be spent exploring the Galapagos Islands while living aboard a cruise yacht. During the voyage the class will explore numerous islands in the archipelago with daily hikes and snorkeling. The field experiences in the Galapagos Islands and surrounding waters will have an emphasis on the unique habitats and organisms. After the cruise, the class will stay on Santa Cruz Island to experience the highlands and culture of the area. Prerequisites: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 490, G002: Special Topics – Tropical Biology. Three credit hours.

Please see the course flyer and website for more information.  The class size is limited to 12 students, so apply early for your best chance to get a spot.  The deadline to apply is September 15, 2017.  All applications must be submitted electronically through the USM Office of Study Abroad.  A direct link to the application process can be found here

If you have questions about the application process, please contact the Program Coordinator, Celine Ingram (celine.ingram@usm.edu; 601.266.6372).  If you have questions about the course, please contact the Program Director, Darcie Graham (darcie.graham@usm.edu; 228.818.8887). 

2017 Summer Field Program:

Summer Mini Session:

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: Three semesters of science or permission of instructor. COA 448/448L: Barrier Island Ecology. Three credit hours (1/2).

Syllabus

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: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 412/512: Field Exercises in Coastal Herpetology. Three credit hours. Instructor: Dr. Matthew Chatfield

Syllabus

Coastal Ornithology

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

Syllabus

Dolphin & Whale Behavior

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 semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 444: Cetacean Behavior. Three credit hours. Instructor: Mr. Jeff Siegel

Syllabus

Field and Lab Techniques in Marine Fisheries

This course will introduce students to the principles of fishery survey design, field techniques, and laboratory procedures. The course will consist of lectures, field trips in estuarine and marine environments, and laboratory exercises to provide students with hands-on experience in marine fisheries science.  Prerequisites: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 417/517: Field and Laboratory Techniques in Marine Fisheries Sciences. Three credit hours. Instructor: Dr. Michael Andres

Syllabus


Summer Session I:

Marine Animal Behavior

This specialized course will provide an in-depth exploration of animal behavior in marine organisms, including both 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: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 490/590: Special Topics – Marine Animal Behavior. Five credit hours. Instructor: Dr. Zach Darnell

Syllabus

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: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 301, 301L: Marine Sciences II – Marine Biology. Five credit hours (3/2). Instructor: Dr. Michael Andres

Syllabus

Marine Ecology

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 semesters of science or permission of instructor. COA 446/546, 446L/546L: Marine Ecology. Five credit hours (3/2). Instructor: Dr. Chet Rakocinski

Syllabus

Marine Ichthyology

Marine Ichthyology is an intensive marine biological field course requiring strenuous physical activity in the ocean. This course 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 that include 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: Two semesters of biology and permission of instructor. COA 421/521, 421L/521L: Marine Ichthyology. Six credit hours (3/3). Instructor: Dr. Frank Hernandez

Syllabus

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: Three semesters of biology, including marine biology or permission of instructor. COA 422/522, 422L/522L: Elasmobranch Biology. Five credit hours (3/2). Instructor: Mrs. Jill Hendon

Syllabus
Graduate Syllabus

 

Summer Session 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: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 301, 301L: Marine Sciences II – Marine Biology. Five credit hours (3/2). Instructor: Dr. James Wetzel

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: Two semesters of biology or permission of instructor. COA 490/590: Special Topics – Marine Conservation. Five credit hours. Instructor: Mrs. Virginia Fleer

Syllabus

Marine Invertebrate Zoology

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

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: Three semesters of biology. COA 443/543, 443L/543L: Marine Mammals. Five credit hours (3/2). Instructor: Dr. Peter Adam

2016 syllabus

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; one semester chemistry; one semester biology or permission of instructor. COA 300, 300L: Marine Science I – Oceanography. Five credit hours (3/2). Instructor: Dr. Jessica Kastler

2016 syllabus

 

Research Study Program

Research Study Program Positions are available in both the first and second terms.

This 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 nclude: 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. Special Topics: Research; COA 492.

 

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