As the largest ecosystem on Earth, our oceans and marine environments are home to a tremendous abundance and diversity of life. Marine environments represent key systems controlling many elemental cycles (e.g. carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus) and are essential drivers of medium and long term stability and change on local, regional, and global geographic scales. This course will examine the interactions between biotic and abiotic processes that direct and respond to change; key environments and organisms involved; and implications for ecosystem services. As the underpinning of many essential processes, microbial ecology will be the starting point for our exploration of marine systems. From there, attention will be given to geographic areas and foodwebs of special interest to class participants.
Students can expect to acquire a cohesive set of foundational knowledge about marine environments, as well as in-depth knowledge about a focal system of their choosing. While many of the underlying principles do apply to a variety of environments, including terrestrial and freshwater, the majority of material will be marine. Readings will be a mix of textbook and journal articles. Students will develop their skills in finding, organizing, and digesting primary literature. In addition, they will improve their skills in scientific writing and presentation.