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MSCI 331 - Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments

Course Goals

This course focuses on understanding fundamental processes in marine science by examining near shore, barrier island, coastal lagoon, and salt marsh environments along Virginia’s outer coast. Through a series of field trips, lectures, laboratory exercises, and independent projects, students will examine the fauna and flora of the region and learn how natural and anthropogenic factors shape these coastal ecosystems. This course meets the field course requirement for the minor in Marine Science.

Syllabus and Grading

This intensive two-week course engages students with lectures, fieldwork, and independent research. During the first week, students are introduced to a range of coastal marine environments and field sampling techniques through lectures given by the faculty and through fieldwork to expose students to environments and sampling methods. During the second week, students design, implement, and execute a research project as part of a larger effort to create a carbon storage and flux box model of a tidal marsh creek. At the end of the course, students present their findings to their classmates and Eastern Shore Lab staff.

Course Logistics

Students should plan to arrive and depart on Sunday afternoon, based on course start and end dates. Housing is provided in dorms located at the VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory. Meals are included. Lab fee required.

VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory

The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences' Eastern Shore Laboratory (ESL) at Wachapreague, VA serves as both a field station in support of research and teaching and as a site for resident research in coastal ecology and aquaculture. By virtue of its access to unique coastal habitats, excellent water quality, and an extensive seawater laboratory, the ESL affords educational and research opportunities not available elsewhere within the region. Over its 40-year history, the laboratory has become internationally recognized for shellfish research, with important contributions to molluscan ecology and culture.

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