The maintenance of biological diversity is one the greatest challenges our world faces today as the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ is currently underway and species are disappearing at an alarming rate. This course will provide students with an appreciation of the patterns of species diversity around the globe and an understanding of the factors leading to extinction. Students will learn about relevant theory, principles, and practices needed to understand and resolve issues in biodiversity conservation. The Semester-at-Sea voyage will allow students to experience firsthand global patterns of biodiversity and conservation in action. Throughout the voyage, we will compare the challenges to the conservation of biological diversity faced by countries with different populations, cultures, and economies.
Field WorkCountry: Ecuador
Date: December 2, 2019
Ecuador, while small in size, is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world in large part because of the diversity of ecosystems that this small country boasts. We will visit Reserva Ecológica Manglares Churute (Churute Mangrove Ecological Reserve) where the Guayas River meets the Gulf of Guayaquil and is home to five different ecological zones, including mangrove forest, wetlands, and tropical dry forest in addition to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. We will spend the day exploring the tropical forests and mangrove by foot and by canoe to develop our own ‘biodiversity snapshot’ and to deepen our understanding of the many different pressures faced by the world’s biological diversity. We will also meet with the reserve managers to discuss conservation of biological diversity in our rapidly changing world.
1) understand the past and current state of biodiversity of mangrove systems;
2) identify challenges to conserving and managing biodiversity such as climate change, habitat fragmentation, and urbanization;
3) gain experience observing organisms in nature; and
4) reflect on the factors that promote or limit biodiversity, especially in tropical systems.