Course Description


Spring/Summer even years
Class time arranged for 6 meetings during the Spring semester
Belize trip - fisrt week after Spring finals (usually second week of May)

            Dr. Peter Bushnell                                                      Dr. Ann Grens
            138 Northside                                                             128A Northside
            574-520-4888                                                             574-520-4426

Course Description and Goals
Marine biology covers a range of complex environments and a diverse assortment of plants and animals adapted to them.  While it is possible to discuss these environments in a lecture course, there is really no substitute for experiencing them in person.  The aim of this course is to introduce participants to a variety of habitats, including coral reefs, grass beds, soft and hard bottom communities, intertidal zones, sandy beaches, mangrove swamps and estuaries.  A student who completes this course will have observed and learned about the structure and function of a variety of tropical marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, as well as experienced Belize culture firsthand.

Successful completion of Biology L304, Marine Biology, or an equivalent marine biology lecture course (L304 will be offered in the Spring of even years; the pre-requisites for L304 are Biology L101 and Chemistry C101 or C105, and Biology L102 is highly recommended), swimming proficiency, a valid passport, and permission of the instructors.

There will be 6 class meetings during the Spring semester, at times agreed upon by the participants (usually Sunday afternoons).  At these meetings we will discuss the structure of the course and deal with "infrastructure" issues (passports, plane tickets, travel arrangements, what to bring, etc.), set up groups and begin work on group projects, learn to identify a variety of organisms likely to be observed in Belize, and learn to perform various types of water analysis.  There will also be a swim test for those who are not certified SCUBA divers, to verify that all participants can swim well enough to participate in all aspects of the course.  The remainder of the course will take place at the Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC) in San Pedro, Belize, in early May during the week between the end of Spring semester finals and the beginnin of Summer Session I.

PLEASE NOTE: Although Biology L342 is a Summer Session I course, so you won't register for the course or pay for the credit hours until April, you must receive authorization from the course instructors (Dr. Bushnell and Dr. Grens) and pay the costs associated with the trip (see below) during Spring semester. Because plane tickets and rooms at the field site must be paid in advance, all fees associated with the trip must be paid in full by March 15. A $500 deposit is required by January 15th to reserve your space in the course.

Assessment and Grading
Your mastery of the course content and attainment of the course goals will be assessed in a variety of ways.  Major activities that will contribute to your course grade will be those related to a research project you will design before we leave, conduct while in Belize, and write up as a formal research paper once we return.  Activities related to accurate identification of species inhabiting marine communities will also be assessed. A small portion of your grade will reflect your participation in all scheduled activities and the instructors' assessment of your demonstrated enthusiasm for science, exploration, and scientific inquiry.