Professors Bridgeman and Turner Teach Coral Reef Ecology at University of Toledo

Butterprint barain coral 20 ft (GP)
Butterprint barain coral 20 ft (GP)

Professors Thomas Bridgeman and John Turner have been teaching the online course “Marine Biology: Coral Reef Ecology” this Spring at the University of Toledo, as well as a field course on coral reef ecology, involving a trip to Great Abaco island in the Bahamas.

As part of the UT coral reef ecology field course, nine students will accompany Professors Turner and Bridgeman, along with a photographer, to the island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas this May, to snorkel and experience firsthand the wonders of the Caribbean coral reefs. Students will be collecting data regarding fish populations and other coral reef species, recording aspects of coral reef conditions, and will undertake several  short experiments.

Students will also visit grass beds and mangroves, take a boat trip to a  Bahamian marine preserve, and visit Friends of the Environment, an Abaco organization doing  environmental education.

““Our field course in Coral Reef Ecology is an important means for immersing students into the real-life world of coral reefs,” says Professor Turner, “and to participate in experimental approaches to better understanding coral reefs and their functions. The learning experience this way is unique and very different from reading about reefs or watching  orchestrated reef videos.   The students also get  to explore  a different country and culture as part of the daily activity.  Overall, it justifies use of the often-clichéd word ‘awesome’.”

The University of Toledo’s online course “Marine Biology: Coral Reef Lab” is a 1 credit lab.  This is the third  year UT has offered this online lab course, which had 45 students this year. Marine Biology: Coral Reef Lab includes:  A virtual laboratory-based exploration of the coral reef environment and the dynamics of the coral reef ecosystem. The web of life on reefs will be examined at multiple levels, including living and non-living components and specialized roles among species, with emphasis on the delicate balance of natural processes and impacts of various stressors. Online data labs will be enhanced with at-home activities including creating and manipulating a physical model of a reef ecosystem.

The Marine Biology: Coral Reef Lab fulfills the university requirement for a natural science laboratory.

According to Prof. Bridgeman, the traveling coral reef ecology field course will not be offered next year, but may be offered again in 2019.  However, the online lab course will be taught again Spring 2018.