Coral Reef Dynamics


Contact the Instructor

Professor Nathan L. Stewart

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    Fish observation

    David Goldstein conducts a midwater fish count.

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    Damelfish territories

    Megan Feddern estimates damselfish territories using transect and quadrat.

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    Daily schedule in the field

    Teaching fellow Liz Burmester posts the daily schedule for the Coral Reef Dynamics class while at Calabash Caye Field Station.

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    Photographing the life of the sea grass bed

    Mariah Shaw and Barbara Muesing prepare a benthic camera quadrat to document sessile invertebrate animals living in the sea grass.

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    Laying a transect

    Casey Ching reels out a meter tape to establish a sampling site in patch reef habitat at Calabash Caye Field Station.

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    New recruits to the reef

    Derek Scolaro and Trevor Etheridge measure baby corals on the reef.

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    Monitoring coral health

    Kelly Hoyer scans the reef for signs of coral using the Coral Watch protocol.

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    Final Presentation

    Sarah Margolis and Marzie Wafapoor deliver a scientific talk at Calabash Caye Field Station describing their research in Coral Reef Dynamics.

Course Description

Coral Reef Dynamics: Shallow Seas, Deep Time (BI539), is an introduction to research on the biology and geology of coral reefs, their role in human-natural coupled coastal systems in the tropics, and their behavior in response to both current and past episodes of climate change. Students will acquire the necessary foundation to do field research on the biology of coral reefs, and the nature and geological history of nearshore carbonate environments. Each student conducts a field research project and produces a manuscript in form for submission to a peer reviewed journal, and a professional seminar presentation. The course occupies the third (November) block of the BU Marine Semester. It consists of five days in Boston, followed by nine days in Belize, and a four-day wrap-up back in Boston.Reef Dynamics is a collaboration between BUMP and the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize. Students are engaged in work that contributes directly to Belize’s national marine research plan, and to the growing knowledge base about the marine wildlife and ecological dynamics of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Work by Reef Dynamics students will contribute directly to marine conservation and integrated coastal zone management in Belize.

Recent Syllabus: MarineSemester_Syllabus_CoralReefDynamics_2014_Stewart

Recent student research:


Additional costs: BU tuition does cover all housing and food costs while in Belize.  Students will be responsible for round trip airfare from Boston to Belize City.