SCIE 635
The Connecticut River: Natural History and Human Imprints

Geoffrey Hammerson

This field course entails a substantial amount of kayaking, wading, and walking. Participants must be capable of prolonged physical exertion and tolerant of a lack of comfort facilities during field trips lasting several hours. Participants must provide their own kayak (preferred) or canoe and (if not experienced) should practice with it before our first field trip.

Tentative Course Schedule
August 3

We meet in the V parking lot on Vine Street (near the tennis courts) at Wesleyan at 9:00 a.m. Come prepared to participate in an all-day field trip. Bring your boat on your car top, plus the equipment listed below. Field trip: Great Island (Old Lyme), North Cove, Ragged Rock Creek (Old Saybrook).

August 4 Field trip: Lord Cove (Lyme-Old Lyme).
August 5

Field trip: Chapman Pond, Whalebone Cove, Selden Creek (East Haddam, Lyme).

August 6 Field trip: Haddam Meadows, Salmon Cove (Haddam, East Haddam).
August 7

Field trip: Keeney Cove (Glastonbury); CT River, (Windsor Locks, South Windsor).


Kayak (preferred) or canoe; paddle; personal flotation device (life jacket), immersible footwear (e.g., sandals); quick-dry clothing; hat; sunscreen; insect repellent; drinking water; lunch; binoculars; camera (optional); drybag (optional); notebook; pen or pencil.


Hammerson, G. A. 2004. Connecticut Wildlife: Biodiversity, Natural History, and Conservation. University Press of New England.  

Connecticut River Watershed Council, J. Sinton, E. Farnsworth, and W. Sinton. 2007. The Connecticut River Boating Guide: Source to Sea. Third edition. Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, CT.


Field trip reports (5). Annotated drawings that graphically summarize the ecological patterns and processes observed during our field trips (five reports; one for each day; see example to be posted on Blackboard). Each report entails construction of a few to several detailed ecological profiles. Grades will be based on clarity/organization, completeness, accuracy, and timely submission. Reports are due one week after the field trip.  

Review paper (1). One approximately 10-page paper that summarizes existing information on some aspect of the Connecticut River, such as its hydrological characteristics, flora, fauna, history, or human uses/impacts. The focus of the paper can be somewhat  broad (human use of the river as a transportation corridor) or narrow (e.g., historical and current status of a single wildlife species). The paper’s introduction must clearly describe the purpose of the paper. Sources of information must be cited throughout the paper (author-year, footnotes, or end notes), and the paper must end with a complete bibliography of the sources used. To avoid excessive work at the end of the summer term, students are advised to begin and complete as much of this paper as possible before the field trips begin on August 3.

Blackboard  Website

It is your responsibility to check the course Blackboard website prior to and after each class. This is where you will find important announcements, follow-up information, maps of field trip sites, and details about upcoming field trips. Be sure to check the Course Documents section for information pertaining to each field trip.