Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation

 Combine this course with other field courses to create an incredible summer of hands-on experiences in Belize.  See Wildlife Health, Ecology and Conservation, Large Animal Veterinary Practices or any of our other courses possible combinations.  

Study Marine Biology in Belize

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Study Marine Biology In BelizeTropical Marine Ecology and Conservation is an intensive, experiential systems-ecology course that covers a ten-day timeframe and includes classroom, field, and laboratory components in both terrestrial riparian and marine ecosystems. Like elsewhere in Central America, Belize’s landmass is characterized by a relatively recent geological history, meaning that a large part of the country was submerged by the sea until the late Pleistocene. As a result of this history, much of the flora and fauna as well as the geological formations of Belize remain in some way connected to the marine environment. Additionally, Belize has a vast hydrological system of above ground and underground rivers and streams that all empty into the Caribbean. Thus, many anthropological activities impacting watersheds upstream will have an effect on the ocean environment, i.e., altering water quality through imparting pollutants and subsequently affecting biodiversity. There are also many species of fauna and flora that have a freshwater and saltwater component to their life cycle. In Belize, it would be incomplete to study conservation issues in the marine ecosystem without also considering the freshwater system.

Study Marine Biology in BelizeThrough this course we combine studies in terrestrial riparian ecology with marine ecology by examining the influence of watershed systems, focusing on their impacts and ecology, as they move downstream into the coastal zone and overlap with sea or ocean influences. In the broadleaf riparian forest zone, students explore human societal practices upstream and their resulting impacts on flora and fauna biodiversity and how this impacts coastal and offshore marine systems such as coastal mangrove forests and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Field and laboratory work focuses on the evaluation of human activities that have lasting ecological impacts in aquatic systems. These concepts will be explored hands-on through community use surveys, biodiversity surveys, habitat characterizations and assessments, and development of inter-connectivity diagrams that allow students to fully understand the interrelatedness of humans and their environment and how this impacts local conservation in the developing nation of Belize.

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Study Marine Biology in Belize

Course Itinerary

Day 1 Course Introduction: Human Impacts and Watersheds
Day 2 Riperian Ecology
Day 3 Community Based Watershed Conservation
Day 4 Water Biofilms
Day 5 Interconnections of surface waters and hyphoreic zones
Day 6 Free Time
Day 7 Travel the Hummingbird Hwy stop at Blue Hole then to Tobacco Caye Marine Station Introduction to snorkeling
Day 8 Introduction to Belize Coral Reef & Marine Communities
Day 9 Salt Marsh Ecology,mangroves, ahallow-water subtidal benthic associations
Day 10 Belize Coral Reef and deep-sea biology
Day 11  Plankton Project Sampling
Day 12 Final Exam; Presentations for projects; Free afternoon


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