Marine Invertebrate Zoology (6 weeks; April 28 - June 6)
Instructors: Dr. Marjorie Wonham (Quest U)
Dr. Tara Macdonald (Institute of Ocean Sciences) [...previous course profile]
Marine invertebrates represent almost every phylum on earth, and Barkley Sound contains a fantastic diversity of them. In this course, students investigate the zoology – the functional morphology, behaviour, ecology, and phylogenetic relationships – of living marine invertebrates. We take field trips to explore a variety of habitats and organisms, including exposed rocky shores, mudflats, eelgrass beds, and beaches. Field work is complemented by lab work, lectures, primary literature readings, and discussion.
This course focuses on honing rigorous research skills including: observing organisms, formulating questions and hypotheses, performing surveys and designing experiments.
Practical Skills: Critical thinking, scientific method, qualitative and quantitative data collection, management and visualization, field and laboratory research techniques and safety practices, effective written and oral communication, small boat handling, animal care. Prerequisite: Third or fourth year standing in biological sciences. Invertebrate zoology recommended but not required. Physical Requirements: This course does not include any physical exertion or challenge beyond that expected in any of BMSC’s field courses. This course includes an overnight hiking trip (~3 hours round trip) and lots of trips to slippery, seaweed-laden field sites. Required Text: Any upper-level invertebrate zoology textbook. Recommended: The most recent editions of Invertebrate Zoology: A Functional Evolutionary Approach (Ruppert, Fox & Barnes, 7th ed., 2003)
or Invertebrates (Brusca & Brusca, 2nd ed, 2003).
This course is designed as an introduction to the techniques and practical aspects of performing research underwater using SCUBA. The intensive practical component will give students the opportunity to try a diversity of sub-tidal research techniques. Students will also deal with the logistical challenges associated with managing a sub-tidal research project, Lectures will focus on providing theoretical background for the field techniques to be practiced, including designing effective surveys, dealing with logistics and safety and analyzing data.
Note: Preference will be given to students wishing to take both Scientific Diving and Subtidal Ecology.
(3 weeks; May 20 - June 6)
Instructors: Dr. Don Levitan (FSU) and Dr. Isabelle Côté (SFU) see attached PDF
Course Description: Much of this planet’s biodiversity is found in marine ecosystems, yet most of this environment is out of our reach without the aid of tools that allow scientist to dive beneath the waves. This course is designed to teach students how to apply the scientific method to organisms located in the diverse subtidal habitats of British Columbia through the use of Scuba. Students already trained as CAUS or AAUS Scientific Divers will participate in grant-funded research and will design and implement their own integrated group research project. Lectures will focus on specific research questions, investigated largely through reading and analysis of published papers, and how to design, conduct and interpret subtidal experiments.
Research skills: Subtidal research projects require a high degree of planning and underwater choreography. Students will receive experience in coordinating dive logistics and safety with scientific objectives. They will also learn a variety of research techniques designed to meet the challenges of a subtidal environment. Students will gain expertise in experimental design, analysis and presentation.
Prerequisites: This course is intended for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students with an interest in sub-tidal ecology. A background in ecology and basic statistics is expected. Students are required to be CAUS or AAUS certified at the start of this course. Students must read the BMSC diver requirements (see BMSC's SCUBA diving pages) and are responsible for ensuring that all prerequisites (including copies of the following are included in their application:
A currently active CAUS or AAUS scientific diver status
current BMSC diving medical signed by a physician
copy of last 2 pages of log book
diver clearance form
equipment checklist and annual service receipts
Students must have a full set of cold-water dive gear (see list below and attached pdf) Required Textbook: None Physical Requirements: This course is physically demanding. Students have to be able to carry their own tanks and weights, as well as other equipment needed for research. All divers will be required to pass the BMSC dive skills and rescue checkouts at the start of the course, prior to commencing any course-related diving.
Mask, snorkel, fins
Exposure suit suitable for water 8C (dry suit strongly recommended)
Hood, boots, gloves
Buoyancy compensator with low pressure inflator
Alternate air source
Submersible pressure gauge
Bottom timer (i.e. dive watch)
Primary dive light
Back-up dive light
2 emergency signal devices - one audible, one visual
A small bag to keep personal gear organized on boats (a large mesh goody bag would suffice)
Tanks and DCIEM tables will be provided
BMSC will provide full size underwater slates for use during the course, although students should bring their own if possible
This hands-on field based course will focus on the ecology of local intertidal and subtidal habitats. In the first part of the course, students will study the fundamental ecological theories developed and applied in the marine environment. During regular field trips students will learn many of the essential tools of practicing marine ecologists (quadrat and transect sampling, biodiversity measurement, mark-recapture, intertidal elevation measurement, local species identification, and natural history). In the second part of the course, students will apply their new skills and knowledge first to an ongoing long-term monitoring project and then while conducting semi-independent research projects developed in conjunction with their instructors and classmates. Prerequisites: Statistics, Introductory Ecology for Majors Research skills: Independent projects in local habitats will allow students to apply their newly acquired ecological knowledge and to present their findings in a poster session for other BMSC users. Daily paper discussions will reinforce critical and efficient reading of the peer-reviewed scientific literature while writing workshops and a mock paper peer-review will enable students to hone their scientific assessment and communication skills. Students will also gain some hands-on training in statistical analysis and graphing using R, a powerful, open-source statistical programming language now used by most practicing biologists.
Practical Skills:R programming and data analysis, independent assessment of scientific literature, experimental design and sampling techniques (transect and quadrat sampling, mark-recapture, species diversity assessment), local species identification, independent project planning. Required Textbook: There is no required textbook; readings will be provided by the instructor. Physical Requirements: Although this course does not include any physical exertion or challenge beyond that expected in any of BMSC’s field courses, this course may include an overnight hiking/camping trip without any amenities (~4 hours hiking round trip, no bathroom facilities), a snorkeling trip involving swimming short distances in a wetsuit, and many trips to intertidal field sites involving getting on and off boats onto slippery rocks.
Description: How do fishes swim and capture prey? How do snakes slither? How do hummingbirds hover? How do crabs walk? These are the types of questions we will address in this course involving the links between ecology and physics. It will be a combined lecture, laboratory and field course focusing on the comparative biomechanics of vertebrates and invertebrates occupying the coast of Vancouver Island. Lectures will develop dominant themes with emphases on movement in fluids (air and water) and on land. Field trips will involve observation of fishes, amphibians, snakes, birds, and several invertebrates, and we will explore both marine and forest habitats. Students will conduct independent research projects in small groups during the final 3 weeks of the course.
Research Skills: Laboratory techniques may include high-speed video recording (up to 10,000 images per second), digital particle image velocimetry (for fluid flow visualization), electromyography (for assessing muscle activity patterns), and force transducers. We will set up experiments in the laboratory, which includes one of the largest flumes in the world. On completion, students will have an extensive understanding of the concepts and techniques commonly utilized in biomechanics research. In addition, students will gain an appreciation of the extensive diversity of animals that can be found in the eastern Pacific shores. Practical Skills: Students will learn how to identify many vertebrates and invertebrates, which is incredibly important for any monitoring work. Students will gain experience using sophisticated equipment and computer programs, both of which are useful in many fields. Finally, students will learn to think critically about research, which is necessary when going into any professional career related to biology (medicine, graduate school, etc.). Prerequisites: Vertebrate Biology and Physics (recommended, but not required). Required Textbook:Comparative Biomechanics: Life’s Physical World by Steven Vogel (Second Edition, Princeton University Press, 2013). Physical Requirements This course will involve hikes through the rainforest and walking over slippery rocks in the intertidal region of the coast. We will get in and out of boats, and we will likely go snorkeling.
This course will examine the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of lakes and how they affect in-lake processes and water quality. In particular, we fill focus on energy flow, nutrient cycling and limitation, food web dynamics in lakes, and will examine organisms from phytoplankton to fish. Finally, we will examine how human activities alter natural processes in aquatic systems. Research Skills: Development of testable hypotheses regarding lake water quality, design of appropriate sampling regimes and experiments, and appropriate statistical analyses to support results and conclusions.
Practical Skills: In this course, students will learn the basics of water quality analysis, including nutrient analyses, indicator taxa, and fish habitat assessment.
Prerequisites: Introductory Biology, Chemistry, and Ecology. Physical Requirements: This course involves sampling lakes from boats and thus students must be able to portage canoes short distances and paddle around small water bodies. Streams will also be sampled which requires navigating rocky and slippery terrain. Textbook: No textbook is required, however purchase of Limnology, Lake and River Ecosystems 3rd Ed. R.G. Wetzel, Elsevier Academic Press, is recommended. Note: Preference will be given to students wishing to take both Biological Oceanography and Limnology.
Cross dressing. Sex change. Chastity belts. Crustaceans were doing all this and more, long before humans ever appeared. Come learn all about this fascinating group in a setting where you can study them up close in their natural habitat and in the lab. Crustaceans are one of the most diverse groups of animals on earth in terms of species, morphology, behavior, and ecology. Discover their remarkable adaptations and strategies for feeding, reproducing, and evading predators. You'll never look at a crab or shrimp dinner in quite the same way again!
Research Skills: Students will get first-hand experience in designing and carrying out a research project involving crustaceans, with instruction on experimental and sampling design. They'll also learn how to identify crustaceans, and will get valuable experience in critically reading and discussing refereed primary literature. Practical Skills: Students will learn how to recognize the various groups of crustaceans, the terminology used in identification keys, and how to differentiate larval forms- - all invaluable skills for consulting or biomonitoring work. Prerequisites: Introductory Biology. A desire and enthusiasm to learn all about this amazing group. Physical Requirements: Students must be able to use microscopes, and negotiate stairs and hills on campus. Field trips usually involve getting in and out of small boats and walking on beaches that can have very slippery rocks. Textbook: “Crabs and Shrimps of the Pacific Coast: A guide to shallow-water decapods from southeastern Alaska to the Mexican border” is strongly recommended but not required. Required journal readings will be provided by instructor.
Science Journalism (3 weeks; June 9-27)
Instructor: Dr. Bob Holmes (New Scientist)
This course will focus on the practice of science journalism. Topics will include identifying newsworthy stories, finding sources, techniques of effective interviewing, story structure, and writing in the style and at the level required by journalistic outlets (newspapers, magazines, and online). The reporting skills and understanding of story structure taught in this class will also complement the skills learned by students who take the science filmmaking course.
Research Skills: The Science Journalism course does not teach research techniques as such. However, every research scientist can benefit from learning to present the results of their research and its implications more clearly. This will benefit them in many ways: straightforward grant applications that are more likely to get funded; more understandable plenary presentations and seminars to broad scientific audiences; and descriptions of their research in lay language, so that the general public can understand what they are doing and why it matters. Physical requirements: Students must be able to conduct interviews, both in person and by telephone, and use a computer. Ability to accompany other researchers on field work may be helpful, but is not necessary. Prerequisites: None. Textbook: (not required) A Field Guide for Science Writers, 2nd Ed., edited by Deborah Blum, Mary Knudson and Robin Marantz Henig. Oxford U Press, 2006. - AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK through member university library web sites. Note: Priority will be given to students who take both Science Journalism and Science Filmmaking.
Science Filmmaking (3 weeks; June 30 - July 18)
Instructors: Dr. Colin Bates (Quest U), Jeff Morales (National Geographic, CBC, Discovery Channel) …previous course profile
This course will introduce students to the use of video as a means to communicate scientific, natural history, and anthropological information. Topics will include story selection, planning, scripting, camera technique, voiceovers, technical aspects of video and audio production, video and audio editing, project output, and distribution.
These technical elements will underpin the main focus of the course: effective storytelling through video. The "hands-on" approach will be emphasized, and students will put concepts introduced in seminars into daily practice. Opportunities will exist for shooting in the field and studio. Students will also critique existing documentaries, and during the latter part of the class, teams of students will spend time producing a short film. Research Skills: Research into story ideas, characters, and scientists will be required. Prerequisite: Third year standing in biology, or permission of instructors. Recommended Equipment: High Definition camera with headphone jack and audio input jack, headphones, & microphone. Physical requirements: Filming assignments may include some or all of the following activities: walking and climbing on rocky shorelines, working in small and medium sized boats in coastal waters, lifting camera and other filmmaking equipment, and ability to sit for prolonged periods during video editing sessions. Textbook: None Note: Preference will be given to students who take both Science Journalism and Science Filmmaking
Marine - Terrestrial Interactions (6 weeks; July 21 - August 29)
Instructors: Dr. Morgan Hocking (Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance; Hakai Beach Institute; Adjunct Professor, UVic) and Dr. Paul Spence (Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia)
...previous course profile
Overall, the course will be structured in four main sections. The first will introduce broad topics in landscape, community and food web ecology, with specific sections on salmon streams, the coastal temperate rainforest, and First Nations resource management (Hocking). In the second section, students will conduct a series of field experiments on the physical (abiotic) atmosphere, ocean and land processes that shape coastal communities such as wind, waves, and currents, and will include the first of three overnight camping trips (Spence). The third section will explore the processes that structure biodiversity of intertidal zones and will feature a field trip to the Deer islands (Hocking and Spence). The final section will involve the analysis, write-up and presentation of the final student projects, with the data collected via a multi-night trip to the Nitinat lakes area of Pacific Rim Park (Hocking and Spence).
Research Skills: As part of the MTI course, students will gain a much greater understanding of how to conduct a field research project from initial design, literature review, data collection, statistical analysis, writing, and final presentation. Practical Skills: We aim to provide upper level undergraduate students with broad skills that will enable them to enter into Masters programs in coastal sciences. This includes how to conduct field research in a civilized manner.
Prerequisites: Preference will be given to third or fourth year students in Biology, Geography, Environmental Studies, and Earth and Ocean Sciences. Some background in statistics is an asset. Physical Requirements: This course exposes students to the rugged west coast environment. This includes a series of day hikes, boating trips and overnight camping trips and thus the students must be prepared and excited to participate. This may include hiking through dense forests, snorkeling the intertidal zones, and portaging canoes. BMSC safety rules, training, and guidance from the instructors and the teaching assistant will minimize the challenges and any risks. Students can also contribute by invoking common sense and bringing appropriate footwear and outdoor clothes
Textbook: There is no textbook – readings to be assigned by the instructors.
Science and the Sea Understanding Coastal Environments of the Pacific Northwest
(6 weeks; July 21 - August 29)
Instructors: Dr. Dave Riddell & Dr. Bridgette Clarkston [...previous course profile]
The unique marine and terrestrial environments of the Pacific Northwest will set the context for this non-majors science course. Students will gain a broad understanding of what science is and how it works, explore the philosophy of science, and learn to think critically about science in their lives.
The coastal ecosystem will provide opportunities for making observations, developing and testing scientific hypotheses and placing scientific findings in a social context. Course themes will include coastal biodiversity, ecology, and environmental science. The class will participate in: field trips by boat and on foot to sample intertidal, freshwater, and forest habitats; case studies and discussions; labs and written assignments. Research Skills: Students will be guided through learning to: read, understand, critique, and create scientific graphs; interpret basic statistics; evaluate scientific claims made in the media; understand scientific terminology and common misconceptions. Students will conduct independent and group projects and practice written and oral communication skills. Students will also learn to identify common and keystone organisms that define Pacific Northwest ecosystems. Practical Skills: Science literacy and critical thinking; data collection, management and basic analysis; problem solving; species identification; evaluation of media articles. Prerequisites: Completed second year of university or permission of instructors. Students will be considered in advance of completing second year if they have an excellent academic record or practical experience in a marine or wilderness environment. This course is designed for non-biology majors. Physical Requirements:Students should be able to negotiate rough, slippery terrain, be comfortable in boats, and be able to walk up to 2 hours per day in all weather conditions. Class activities include a snorkelling trip as well as an overnight camping trip. Optional activities as a class may include hikes up to 10-20 km on rough and muddy west coast trails. If you have a physical limitation, but would still like to participate in the course, please contact the instructors. Textbook: None
Biological Oceanography (3 weeks; July 21 – August 8)
Instructor: Dr. Ed Buskey (U of Texas)
An introduction to the organisms of the open sea and coastal zone, their adaptations to the environment, and the factors that control their productivity, distribution and abundance. Emphasis will be placed on the interdisciplinary nature of biological oceanography by exploring the effects of physical and chemical oceanographic processes on the productivity of the sea over time and space, and the effects of human activities on pelagic marine life. The course incorporates lectures with class discussions and will emphasize laboratory and field work with organisms found in the coastal waters of British Columbia. A class research project will provide further opportunity for students to explore aspects of the biological oceanography of Barkley Sound. Research Skills: Collection of marine life from research vessels using nets, dredges and trawls; use of electronic sensors to monitor and record basic hydrographic parameters (temperature, salinity, oxygen, chlorophyll); laboratory methods for measuring nutrient, oxygen, chlorophyll and fecal coliform concentrations in local waters; identification of microscopic planktonic organisms, methods for measuring productivity, grazing and reproduction in planktonic organisms, and how to carry out a collaborative research project within a group of students.
Practical Skills: Organizing and collecting data; graphing data and statistical analysis; writing a research report; small boat handling; working in small groups on a research project. Enrichment activities: We will also have discussion sections on various topics including: ethics in science, applying to graduate school, effective scientific presentations. Prerequisite: Introductory biology and ecology, or consent of the instructor. Physical requirements: Field and lab work may include some or all of the following activities: walking and climbing on rocky shorelines to collect specimens, working in small and medium sized boats in coastal waters, ability to observe small organisms using microscopes.
Required Text:Biological Oceanography by Charles Miller and Patricia Wheeler, 2012 (2nd edition), Blackwell Publishing. Note: Preference will be given to students wishing to take both Biological Oceanography and Limnology or Biological Oceanography and Marine Protected Areas.
Marine Protected Areas (3 weeks; August 11 - 29)
Instructor: Dr. Beth Scott (University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK)
As human use of the marine world is only set to increase are Marine Protected Areas (MPA) what we need for our oceans to become sustainable in terms of the ecological, economic and energy producing capacity of marine environments? This course aims to enable students to appreciate the level of understanding of physical & biological oceanography, biodiversity, trophic interactions and individual species level life history issues that are required to implement spatially explicit, sustainable marine conservation. This course is taught by a scientist whom in is the front line of current MPA creation in English and Scottish waters. Defining what to protect and ecologically justifying why is just the starting point on the journey to providing active marine conservation. This course is intended for upper level undergraduates and graduate students with a desire to be an active participant in the future spatial design of the sustainable management of our seas. Students will be responsible for a research project which provides the design and the methods for testing (and defining) the success of a network of Marine Protected Areas.
Research Skills: The course will provide an understanding of how to integrate diverse data sources to define the reasons for specific locations and the design of a network of MPAs. Field trips will involve active mapping of marine biotopes within Barkley Sound from boat based ROV surveys as well as shore based surveys. Labs will cover a range of skills from the use of oceanographic models to the analysis of varied layers of spatial data on habitats, communities and species variables. Practical Skills: Marine Spatial planning is one of the fastest growing regions of employment for graduates of marine science. This course will provide students with the ability to integrate information across a range of disciplines (ecology, oceanography, fisheries) at small to large spatial and temporal scales. This multi-disciplinary knowledge and experience is what many employers from research, consultants and government organisations are looking for. Prerequisites: This course is intended for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in biological, ecological or oceanographic sciences. Biological Oceanography, Marine Ecology courses are recommended but not required. Physical Requirements: Students must be able to participate in field work which encompasses time on larger boats, hiking and /or use of small boat embarking and collecting data on rocky, slippery shores.
Required Textbook:Marine Conservation Ecology, by John Roff and Mark Zacharias, 2011, EarthScan Ltd. Dunstan House, London, UK. Note: Preference will be given to students wishing to take both Marine Protected Areas and Biological Oceanography.
Place-based Learning in Huu-Ay-Aht Territories
(2 weeks; July 21 - August 1) [.pdf]
Instructor: Dr. Tracy L. Friedel, Nehiyaw-Métis (EDCP, UBC)
As outdoor learning, environmental education, and sustainability education gain traction in schools, institutions of higher learning, and other educational contexts, seen as a means to connect students locally and globally, and to promote social and ecological justice, what does place-based learning
have to offer us? On the west coast of Vancouver Island, Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, including Huu-ay-aht First Nation, have occupied their homelands along the mountains and seas for thousands of
years. This extended land and water tenure is reflected in a multitude of ways, through narratives,
songs, ceremonies, family lines, and place names. In relatively recent times (since the midnineteenth
century), Huu-ay-aht people have shared this enduring landscape with Europeans and
their descendants. The Village of Bamfield is an instrumental part of British Columbia history,
having served at various times as a key trans-pacific cable terminus, fishing village, start/end point
for the West Coast Trail, research marine station, and eco-tourist destination.
In the context of this rich history and present, this two
week course offers
students the opportunity to
engage with the theory and practice of place
is structured around foundational questions, such as, “What is the relationship
between land, water,
in the region?".
incorporating forms of experiential learning and student field projects, the course aims to enhance
of the social, cultural, political, economic, and recreational significance of
coastal eco-places for local communities Research Skills: A core feature of this course is
oral and archival history research methods
students will have an opportunity to utilize these practices to deepen their understanding of place
based experience in Huu-ay-aht territory, including the villages of
Anacla. Prerequisites: Practicing or certified teachers,
third or fourth year
Education (B.Ed.) degree program
year after degree B.Ed.
students in a relevant social science discipline
welcome (instructor permission is required). Physical Requirements: This course involves activities that that will require moderate physical exertion, including at least one hike of approximately 2-4 hours duration (round trip) undertaken on uneven trails and/or in potentially wet and muddy conditions. Shorter field trips may be taken to nearby or remote locations. Course work may also involve boating activities, and traversing slippery and uneven terrain in the intertidal zone. Textbook:A course pack of required readings will be available to students in electronic
form, including writings/works by G. Cajete, J. Cruikshank, C. Bowers, J. Armstrong, and others.
Ecological Models and Data (3 weeks; August 11 - 29)
Instructors: Dr. Andrew Bateman and Stephanie Peacock (UA)
Did you enjoy second-year statistics? Don’t worry! There exists a world beyond t-tests and z tables. This course will take students beyond the basics to fuse models with data from ecological systems. Students will learn how to formulate models on paper and code them in R, use models to simulate data and make predictions, write a likelihood function, fit models to data to estimate parameters and compare different model structures. Efforts will be made to link course material to local ecological systems and data, with opportunities to get into the field. The latter part of the course will be devoted to student research projects. Students are encouraged to collect data in the field for their projects, but may come with pre-existing datasets or use model simulation to generate data. Students will present their projects in an open symposium at the end of the course. Research Skills: The abilities to translate ecological questions into quantitative models and connect models with data are key to the modern scientific process.
Practical Skills: In an age of technology, ecology is rapidly becoming a data-rich science. Being comfortable using large datasets to answer ecological questions will set you apart for a job in research, consulting or government. This course also develops skills communicating research, through presentation of data and models in written and oral form. Prerequisites: (1) Second year statistics, (2) introductory calculus and (3) familiarity with upper-level ecology, or permission of the instructors. Students lacking any of these pre-requisites should be prepared to do some additional legwork. All students should be willing to learn some math and coding! Physical Requirements: Students must be comfortable on open boats, walking rugged shorelines in all types of weather and working long hours at a computer. Required Textbook:Ecological Models and Data in R. Ben Bolker (2008). Princeton University Press (ISBN 0691125228). We recommend buying hard copy, but if you’re tight on cash, older pdfs of individual chapters can be downloaded from http://ms.mcmaster.ca/~bolker/emdbook/
Directed Studies in Marine Science (3 or 6 weeks; dates student's choice)
and Graduate Directed Studies may be undertaken at any time during the
summer term. Study will involve a research project approved by a
supervisor in the student's field of interest. Projects will be
designed to take advantage of laboratory and/or field opportunities.
Applications should be accompanied by a project outline and a letter
from a faculty member willing to supervise. Normal room and board,
tuition, and supplemental fees will apply. Students interested in SCUBA related projects should contact
, at least one month before expected start date
for more information about doing a directed study at BMSC.