Tropical Marine Biology

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 24, 2019 - July 12, 20196/24 - 7/12M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenKathryn Kavanagh

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Course Description

Tropical marine environments are as fascinating biologically as they are thrilling to see in person — colorful coral reefs, dense mangrove forests, seagrass beds with manatees, open ocean large pelagics. In lectures, activities and field trips, we will dive into the diversity of nature in the tropical oceans and understand how these ecosystems develop, evolve, and persist around the world. We will explore adaptations of tropical marine animals to their environment and the ecological forces that affect their populations. With this new knowledge, we will then examine current threats to tropical marine systems. The tropical oceans and the fascinating creatures within are enchanting-- once hooked, students will enjoy diving deep into the biological principles that drive the dynamics of these systems.

This course will include lectures, readings, field trips, and activities related to Tropical Marine Biology. Students will prepare oral presentations on a topic of interest to be presented to the group. The instructor has Masters and Doctoral degrees in Marine Biology, having worked extensively on coral reefs, including years on the Great Barrier Reef, Belize barrier reef, Philippines, and many remote atolls and islands in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic.

These objectives will cover many fundamental biological concepts, in an intrinsically interesting system. Students will learn:
1. basic principles of oceanography, such as tides and currents;
2. basic plankton community structure of the oligotrophic tropical ocean;
3. nutrient cycling and energy flow through tropical coastal ecosystems;
3. community structure and dynamics of estuaries and mangals;
4. community structure and dynamics of sea grass communities;
5. community structure and dynamics of coral reefs;
6. biology of organisms comprising mangals, seagrass meadows and coral reefs;
7. why tropical marine systems are important to humans;
8. current threats to tropical marine systems

Prerequisites: High school biology & Algebra I. Intended for advanced high school students.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI0999
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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