Spring 2005
Fully Enrolled

SCIE 639
Coastal and Forest Ecology and Geology of Puerto Rico: A Travel Field Course in Puerto Rico

O'Connell,Suzanne B.

03/12/2005 - 03/19/2005
Saturday - Saturday -

This is a one-week immersion course on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Vieques has undergone relatively little development and is an ideal place to study tropical island habitats such as mangrove swamps and coral reefs. In this class, we will learn about the ecology and geology of the island, and the differences in habitat and coastal processes between the more protected north and more open south shores, and the well-protected bays. Studying the influence of geology on the coastal and forest ecology of the island, we will compare temperature, beach profiles, dissolved oxygen, as well as plants and animals, to examine the influence of elevation and coastal development on habitats on Vieques and the main island of Puerto Rico. As a living laboratory, the island will illustrate ecological and geological principles while also demonstrating the manifestation of those principles through local variations.

The class will meet once before the trip to discuss logistics. Prior to the trip students will be asked to research in depth one area of study, such as marine shellfish, carbonate beaches, or tropical insects. During the trip, students will be expected to keep field notes and journals and after the course write a summary paper. The class will meet once after the trip, during the first week in April, to present papers.

We will stay at the Pelican Beach Villas, a group of three vacation rental houses (one is beachfront) in Vieques; photos and more information about housing will be posted on the GLSP Web site. Everyone will share in cooking and cleaning up after meals. From this base station, we will go on daily field trips around the island and to the main island of Puerto Rico to explore El Yunque rainforest, and to Culebra. Participants will be expected to go on moderate hikes and must be able to swim.

The cost for the course includes tuition, a housing fee ($300-600, depending on accommodations) and an additional course fee of $900. This fee does not include airfare or transportation between the airport and Pelican Villas, but does include groceries, transportation for course excursions, boat rentals, the kayaking excursion, and the excursions to Culebra and El Yunque. Students will need to purchase their own snorkeling gear (renting is an option but the cost is comparable to buying). Students should arrive in Vieques on Saturday, March 12 and the course will end Saturday, March 19. Enrollment is limited to 14. Pre-registration begins November 1, 2004 and the deadline to register is Friday, January 14, 2005 (late registration subject to availability). Registration requires a pre-registration housing deposit form as well as a course registration form.

A preliminary course meeting will be held on Saturday, February 5, 2005 at 2PM in the Geology Conference Room, located on the 4th floor of the Exley Science Center.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Suzanne O'Connell (B.A. Oberlin College; M.S. SUNY Albany; Ph.D. Columbia University) is associate professor of earth and environmental sciences. Her research focuses on marine geology and continental margin sedimentology, with emphasis on areas in coastal Connecticut, the Caribbean, and Antarctica. The Association for Women Geoscientists named her the 2001 Outstanding Educator. She is the primary or contributing author of over 152 publications, with five in press, most recently: "Connecting urban students with their rivers generates interest and skills in the geosciences," published in the Journal of Geoscience Education. Click here for more information about Suzanne O'Connell.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 9

Texts to purchase for this course:

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