Coastal Environmental Ecology [CRN 27409]

Discipline: Natural Resources
Instructor: Quillmann
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 13:40
End: 15:00
Field Work: Day 5 | February 14, 2017 | Vietnam
Prerequisites: One (1) general or fundamentals of chemistry course Download Syllabus

This interdisciplinary course will examine different stressors and their impacts on the ecology of coastal environments. We will investigate stressors on coastal environments, such as urban development, overfishing, mining for oil, gas and sand, pollution, ocean acidification, eutrophication, and changes in sea level and in climate. We will analyze the how these stressors affect various coastal ecosystems and environments, such as wetlands, mangrove forests, sea grass beds, coral reefs, sand dunes, and kelp forests.

Coastal environments are changing right in front of our eyes, affecting both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. SAS will provide real life teaching moments. We will witness first hand the state of the different coastal ecosystems and assess the measures (if any) different countries implement to protect their coastal ecosystems and environments. Over half the world’s population lives concentrated in coastal areas and coastal population is expected to rise, further intensifying the pressure human activity has on coastal zones. It is urgent to call for global measures to be taken to help protect and restore natural coastal environments that are still remaining.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 5
Date: February 14, 2017

Mangrove forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world but have received less attention than tropical rainforests. Mangrove forests provide shelter and food for marine and terrestrial organisms, stabilize coastlines, protect coastlines against wave erosion, and play an important role in the carbon cycle.  Mangroves are an important forest ecosystem that has been declining rapidly because of human land use (e.g. urbanization, oil exploration, ports and roads). In recent years ~50% of mangrove forests decline is attributed to clear cutting for shrimp farms. This field class will provide students with the opportunity to assess the status quo of mangrove forests in the Mekong delta and recognize the services mangrove forests provide for ecosystems and for humans. Students will also have the opportunity to visit a shrimp farm and discover the consequences of shrimp farming for mangroves. Students will visit a mangrove reforestation area to decide if reforestation is a vital prospect for saving mangrove forests.

Field exercises:

  • Identifying different mangrove species
  • Observing the multitude of functions mangrove provide for humans
  • Assessing the effects of agriculture, aquaculture, and fishing on the natural habitats
  • Taking census of the rich biodiversity, including monkeys, saltwater crocodiles, fish species, and birds.
  • Trekking along wooden tracks through the forest
  • Snorkeling in the mangroves (where safe)
  • Stop at local markets to see products offered from the mangrove ecosystems