Biological Diversity [CRN 79616]

Discipline: Natural Resources
Instructor: Young
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1230
End: 1350
Field Work: Day 1 | December 16, 2018 | Hawaii, United States
Prerequisites: One (1) biology or natural resources course Download Syllabus

Our world is in a period of unprecedented environmental change, primarily as a result of human modification.  This course will examine the causes and consequences of one of the most pressing issues of our time- species extinctions and the loss of biological diversity. We will examine the science behind biodiversity: how physical, ecological and geologic processes contribute to the origin biological diversity (i.e. speciation), and delve into practice of conservation biology and actions that are being taken to prevent extinctions. You will learn both relevant theory, and applied practices, to understand and resolve conservation issues from a practicing conservation biologist. You will be participating in, and evaluating real-world examples from ports visited throughout the semester. Throughout the voyage, you will gain an understanding of, and be able to compare, biological diversity challenges faced by countries with different cultures, economic means, and population sizes.

Field Work

Country: Hawaii, United States
Day: 1
Date: December 16, 2018

Students will go on a day trip and hike to Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve on the North Shore of Oahu, where Dr. Young has been running a research and conservation program for more than 14 years. Students will learn about full ecosystem restoration and invasive species management by examining the predator proof fence at this site and meeting some of the other managers who were instrumental in the restoration at the site. Laysan Albatrosses, who students will have seen during the voyage, also nest in this reserve and students will have the opportunity to participate in bird banding, nest marking, GPS tracking and contributing to a 14 year data set by actively participating in the research. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in the restoration throughout-planting of native plants and weeding of non-native plants. This is the only accessible albatross colony in the world that allows student visits within the colony, and thus this provides an unparalleled opportunity for experiential learning by participating in real on the ground research. In the days approaching the port visit, the students will read and discuss peer reviewed publications that have resulted from the research and restoration at Kaena Point and thus will have the chance to visit a living laboratory as a culminating activity.

Learning objectives:

  1. Understand the past and current state of biodiversity of the islands, especially with respect to seabirds, that we have observed from the ship throughout our voyage.
  2. Comprehend current management challenges such as those relating to climate change and invasive species, which are unique on islands.
  3. After reading and visiting the site and learning more about the conservation challenges, discuss the next steps moving forward and how this project could be improved.