This course enables students to apply the scientific process in a field research project that addresses a local issue related to the management of tropical marine environments in Turks & Caicos Islands. Students learn how to develop a scientific approach to identify risks to the health of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove stands that surround the island. These risks include both local phenomena such as overfishing and increased coastal development, as well as global issues like climate change and ocean acidification.
The spectacular reefs, turquoise waters, and island community of South Caicos serve as the laboratories for studies and field work. Research sites, field exercises, and excursions include:
Exploring coral reefs, fringe and island mangrove ecosystems, and extensive seagrass meadows
Touring current coastal development projects and seafood processing plants
Attending skills workshops, including stakeholder engagement and science communication
Examining anthropogenic impacts to nearshore ecosystems
Valuing ecosystems of TCI for coastal planning decisions