Course Offerings - 2014 Summer Field Program

Three sessions of courses are offered in 2014.

Summer Mini-Session, May 12-23, 2014

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

Aquatic and Wetland Plants

Students will be introduced to the wide range of coastal habitats along the Mississippi coast, identifying vascular plants from aquatic and wetland habitats common to this region. Visits to the Pascagoula River, Deer Island, and Horn Island aboard GCRL research vessels will be conducted to compare habitats. Habitats studied include: sea-grass beds, salt marsh, estuary and intermediate marsh, freshwater marsh, pitcher-plant savanna, seashore, dune, and relic dune. The dominant and characteristic plants of each habitat will be identified, as well as unusual and rare species encountered in the region. Land-based field trips will include visits to the DeSoto National Forest, the Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Prerequisite: General Biology or General Botany or permission of instructor. Dr. Ron Jones. Special Topics: Aquatic and Wetland Plants; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $200.00.

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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 semester’s science or permission of instructor. Dr. Arthur Karels. Barrier Island Ecology; COA 448/448L. Three semester hours credit (1/2). Course field fee is $500.00.

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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 and associated readings, 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 semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Matthew Chatfield. Field Exercises in Coastal Herpetology; COA 412/512. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $200.00.

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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 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 $200.00.

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Dolphin and 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 semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Jeffrey Siegel. Cetacean Behavior; COA 444. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $500.00.

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Environmental Photography

This course is designed to develop an awareness of our environment through the medium of photography. Class includes studies of the structure and function of ecosystems (emphasizing aquatic environments), examining selected environmental concerns through daily field trips. Students will emphasize nature at the seldom observed macroscopic level for an understanding of interrelationships in the environment. Although no formal coursework is prerequisite, it is expected that students will have a basic awareness of environmental issues. Dr. James Wetzel. Special Topics: Environmental Photography; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $200.00.

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Marine Toxicology

This course is intended for junior/senior level students and will introduce them to the concepts of aquatic toxicology. Lectures will cover history and basic concepts of toxicology with a focus on aquatic issues, 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 and one semester of chemistry or permission of instructor. Dr. Robert Griffitt. Special Topics: Marine Toxicology; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Please note that there is no field fee associated with this course.

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First Term, May 27 – June 24, 2014

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

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 semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Walter Conley. Marine Sciences II: Marine Biology; COA 301, 301L. Five semester hours undergraduate credit (3/2). Course field
fee is $500.00.

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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 semester’s science or permission of instructor. Dr. Chet Rakocinski. Marine Ecology; COA 446/546, 446L/546L. Five semester hours credit (3/2). Course field fee is $500.00.

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Marine Embryology

Marine Embryology is a specialty area within the marine sciences that involves methods in field collecting, spawning, in vitro fertilization, and laboratory manipulation of gametes and embryos of the major invertebrate and vertebrate groups found in marine habitats. Lectures encompass the broader field of Developmental Biology, and so include such contemporary applications as cloning, tissue regeneration, cell lineage, and organogenesis. Prerequisites: One year of college level biology, or permission of instructor. Dr. James Wetzel. Special Topics: Marine Embryology; COA 490/590. Five semester hours credit. Course field fee is $500.00.

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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: Two semester’s biology or permission of instructor. Dr. Richard Heard. Marine Invertebrate Zoology; COA 428/528, 428L/528L. Six semester hours credit (3/3). Course field fee is $500.00.

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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. Dr. Jessica Kastler. Marine Science I: Oceanography; COA 300, 300L. Five semester hours undergraduate credit (3/2). Course field fee is $500.00.

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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. Jill Hendon. Elasmobranch Biology; COA 422/522, 422L/522L. Five semester hours credit (3/2). Course field fee is $500.00.

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Second Term, June 26 – July 25 , 2014

Searching for dolphins in Mississippi Sound - USM Summer Field Program

Marine Aquaculture

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 $200.00.

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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. Specimens will be collected through boat trips to the barrier Islands, trawling and collection trips. We will investigate the similarities and differences of the barrier islands, including their history and migration. We will take trips to local habitats, the Estuarium in Mobile and the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. We will study all aspects of aquaculture and marine systems, as well as classifying and cataloging the various marine life. There will be a trip to Panama City, FL for the collection of specimens. This will include snorkeling estuaries, bays and patch reefs. Prerequisites: Two semesters biology or permission of instructor. Gregory Thurmon. Marine Sciences II: Marine Biology; COA 301, 301L. Five semester hours undergraduate credit (3/2). Course field fee is $500.00.

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Marine Ichthyology

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 $500.00.

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Marine Jellyfish, July 14 -25, 2014

Marine jellyfish, or gelatinous zooplankton, are planktonic gelatinous organisms that include pelagic cnidarians such as the sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) and the Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalia), though ctenophores such as Mnemiopsis leidyi are often included.  While revered as beautiful aquarium animals, jellyfish have gained increased notoriety in recent decades as nuisance organisms, with significant ecological and economic impacts such as detrimentally impacting important fisheries, stinging beachgoers and closing beaches, clogging power plant cooling water intakes and invading new ecosystems.  In addition, recent molecular research on these organisms has shed light on the evolutionary relationships of the most ancient and primitive metazoans, changing some of our fundamental views of animal evolution.  In this course, we will review the importance of the marine jellyfishes, beginning with what these animals are and what they do, how they interact with humans and the rest of the marine realm,  and whether or not their populations may be changing in response to anthropogenic disturbances.  Prerequisites: two semesters of general biology and one semester of ecology, evolution or genetics or permission of instructor.  Dr. Keith Bayha.  Special Topics: Marine Jellyfish; COA 490/590.  Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $200.

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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. Dr. Jennifer Lewis. Marine Mammals; COA 443/543, 443L/543L. Five semester hours credit (3/2). Course field fee is $500.00.

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Parasites of Marine Animals

Parasites of Marine Animals introduce students to some animal parasites (viruses, 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 $500.00.

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Stingray Physiology, June 26 - July 10, 2014

This short course is complementary to Shark Biology (COA 422/422L) and will provide an in-depth exploration of elasmobranch physiology using the Atlantic stingray as a model organism. Lectures will cover unique aspects of elasmobranch (sharks, skates and stingrays) physiology and specialized adaptations to the challenges of life in diverse aquatic habitats. The laboratory component will include field collections and wetlab experiments that examine the osmoregulatory capabilities of the Atlantic stingray, including an analysis of gene expression and plasma biochemistry. Prerequisites: Three semesters of biology, including Marine Biology, or permission of instructor. Dr. Andrew Evans. Special Topics: Stingray Physiology; COA 490/590. Three semester hours credit. Course field fee is $200.00.

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