Overview of Course
Coastal habitat makes up only 8% of the earth’s land, but it hosts more than a quarter of all the biological diversity on earth. It provides essential ecosystem services and economic benefits which humans depend on for their well-being. Nearly half of the world’s population lives close to a coastal ecosystem, many of which are facing serious threats.
The purpose of this course is to engage students in learning the ecological importance of coastal environments on a global scale. We will examine their current state and some of the threats they face. We will learn from first-hand experience with coastal habitats on three different continents, as we travel through the worlds three largest oceans, along more than 100,000 KM of coastline which are influenced by over a dozen different human cultural groups. Our opportunity to do this all in one semester is significant. We will take full advantage of it by engaging in readings, discussions and field trips to various coastal ecosystems including bays, marshes and estuaries, vast kelp forests, fragile coral reefs, rocky intertidal shorelines, sea grass beds, and mangrove communities.