This course reviews the drivers of global environmental change (human population growth and consumption of resources), resulting environmental degradation, and tools to slow down or address environmental damage. The course begins with analyses of levels of biodiversity and species richness, and then covers concepts in demography, such as source sink dynamics and population viability analysis. These concepts are then employed to understand major environmental problems, including habitat conversion and modification, climate change, eutrophication, acid rain, ozone depletion, endocrine disruption due to contaminants, trade in threatened species, and biological invasions. Connections are explored between biodiversity and human health in a changing global environment. The course also explores the conservation biology toolbox, including conservation genetics, island biogeography and the design of nature reserves, restoration ecology, and environmental policy. Special attention is paid to conservation problems in countries and regions along the route of the voyage.
Field WorkCountry: Hawaii, United States
Day: 1 - Tuesday, 12 January
Coconut Island is a tropical marine research facility belonging to the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s Institute of Marine Biology. It is surrounded by 64 acres of coral reef and it supports research in many disciplines of tropical science such as coral ecology, biogeochemistry, and evolutionary genetics. Students will travel on the station’s research vessel, deploying a plankton net along the way. Upon reaching Coconut Island they will encounter sharks and other research animals, then do two hands-on labs, one analyzing the plankton from the research cruise and the other sorting through invasive seaweeds to separate out and recover small creatures from the bay. The lab will provide first-hand exposure to the endangered coral ecosystem, and an appreciation of the role that scientific research plays in their conservation.
1. Understand the structure and biodiversity of coral reef ecosystems, and discuss threats to their survival
2. Tour a tropical marine research facility; speak with scientists engaged in marine research; gain hands-on experience in data collection
3. Develop an appreciation of the linkages between basic scientific research and applied conservation strategies