Contact the Professor
Ranjan Muthukrishnan

Course Overview

Join the global science and conservation effort to support coral reefs through the Great Climate Hiatus! The GCH is the period of time required to restore a climate in which coral reefs can once again survive and grow. We will study four topics: (1) the basics of coral reef ecology, (2) coral reefs as one element in a coastal landscape ecology, (3) the current status of coral reefs, and (4) how reef restoration can build a potential for coral reefs to regenerate through the centuries required to reverse anthropogenic climate change. (Climate will change, and schedule may change due to Covid-19 safety considerations).

Learning Objectives

Students in this course will be able to…

1. Speak knowledgeably about the nature, past and future of coral reefs

2. Understand the synthesis of genomics, cell biology, physiology, symbiosis, community ecology, climate science, anthropology, psychology and economics essential to succeed in coral reef stewardship.

3. Relate coral reef restoration in particular to ecological restoration in general

4. Contribute directly to the success of coral reef restoration in Belize and Florida.

5. Master and challenge current methods for coral reef restoration and propose improvements.

6. Identify common Caribbean fishes, corals, and other reef plants and animals.

Analytical Methods Learned: Benthic photogrammetry, image analysis, species identification, basic and multivariate statistics, critical analysis of scientific literature.

Research framework

Students will be analyzing actual image data from the Coral Restoration Foundation (Florida), The 7 Iconic Reefs Project (Florida), and Fragments of Hope (Belize).

Additional Considerations:

  • Course-specific Costs:
    • Students will need to reimburse the BU Marine Program for the cost of the flight to Belize (about $1000).
    • Students are responsible for transportation to and from Logan Airport on travel days.
    • All students traveling to Belize must purchase DAN insurance and the Guardian Level
    • All students must have a passport valid for at least 6 months past their return date.
  • Meals
    • Food and lodging are covered by the program while in Belize. Students will be responsible for purchasing any meals during travel days.
  • Schedule
    • ~7 Days in Boston: Mon-Fri / 10:00-12:00 & 1:00-4:00
    • ~13 Days in Belize
      • Mon-Sun / Daily Field work: ~8:30-11:30 am; 1:30-4:30 pm;
      • Daily Data Analysis & Talk Preparation: 7:30-9:30 pm
      • Location: Calabash Caye Field Station
    • 1 Day Wrap-Up in Boston
  • Required gear
    • Full-length 2mm/3mm wet suit, neoprene booties, fins, dive mask, snorkel, waterproof watch. Optional: hood, underwater camera.
  • Physical requirements
    • Up to 7 hours of snorkeling per day. Daily transit on small boats. Short hikes across level ground. Occasionally carrying class gear across a sandy beach. Class stays at a remote field station. You will be exposed to the elements (sun, rain, wind) and bugs (be prepared with bugspray).