An Interdisciplinary Earth Systems Field Course-2020 (Page 2)

Tropical Marine Ecology of the Florida Keys, Everglades & Bahamas


R. Hays Cummins, Western Program, Miami University

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Marine Ecology Syllabus: Site NAVIGATION & Table of Contents: (Continued)

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Course Announcement & Brief Description//Further Information Essential Participant Information
Tropical Marine Ecology Syllabus Latest Florida Keys and Bahamas Weather
Evaluation Required Texts
Student Led Presentation Topics Marine Ecology Course IMAGES

More Syllabus Info on Page 1

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Tropical Marine Ecology IMAGES

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Syllabus:Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica

Tentative Marine Ecology Field Schedule

I must emphasize that the following schedule of events is tentative. Student presentations will occur on a daily basis. Course readings will be assigned on a daily basis. The priority of events can (will) change at a moments notice.

Arrival Day

We will meet at 8:00 PM at the Ramada Inn in Ft. Lauderdale to meet one another, discuss course goals and expectations, and here a lecture on the geology of the Florida Keys.

Day 1

all day: Settle in on Key Largo. Snorkeling in the afternoon in mangroves. Mangrove Challenge. Check out images and movies from previous trips to the Florida mangrove systems.

night: Mangrove lecture and discussion. Field Journal Entries

Day 2

all day: Coral reefs of Florida. SCUBA and snorkel Molasses Reef and French Reef. Field Journal Entries. Check out amazing movies and photos of Florida and Bahamian Reefs

Our two offshore SCUBA & Snorkel sites include Molasses and French Reefs.

Night: Discussion of reef structure and comparisons with the Bahamas. Night SCUBA/Snorkel ! Research Project Ideas.

Day 3

all day.: Florida Bay Exploration. Mangrove analysis. Boat Tow

Night: Lecture on the Everglades. Field Journal Entries

Day 4

a.m.: Travel to the Everglades. Take a look at images and movies from previous trips to the Everglades.

Here is a drawing of the historical drainage patterns of the Everglades prior to urban and agricultural sprawl. Compare with the false color image below. Do you notice any differences in drainage patterns? (From Everglades Wildlife, Natural History Series, Office of Publications, National Park Service, U. S. Dept. of Interior)

This is a false color image of South Florida. Note the intense land use pressure (as designated by color change) encroaching upon the Everglades System from the northwest, north and east. What happens to the Everglades system will ultimately determine the ecologic fates of Florida Bay and the Atlantic coral reefs. More detailed information about this image is available from project manager Bob Brown of the South Florida Water Management District's Geographic Information System.

p.m.: Visit select Everglade trails. Naturalist essay. Field Journal Entries Take a look at images and movies from previous trips to the Everglades.

Night: Sun Lab. Overview of the Bahamas.

From the Florida Keys, we will fly to San Salvador, Bahamas. The proposed flight path is shown.

Day 5

a.m.: Fly to San Salvador. Stow gear and setup our research space.

P.m.: Snorkeling in Grahams Harbor. Examination of microenvironments within Grahams Harbor. Field Journal Entries Algae quiz. Check out images and movies of the Bahamian Field Station area.

Night: Marine Environments & Course Expectations. Formation of research teams. Geologic Time Scale Project. Analysis of the days work. Field Journal Entries

Day 6

a.m.: North Point/Cut Cay walk and an analysis of intertidal zones. Comparisons of high- and low- energy intertidal zones. Intertidal Zone Challenge. Check out images and movies of North Point and its amazing intertidal zone.

P.m.: Coral Reef Ecology: We will concentrate over the next several days on the ecology of coral reefs. We will first visit French Bay/Fernandez Bay by snorkeling/SCUBA over gorgeous patch reefs and beautiful sandy areas at Telephone Pole/Snapshot Reef. The day will be spent analyzing the coral species present, determining a species inventory of vertebrates and invertebrates associated with the reef, and getting a sense of the diversity of corals in the Bahamas.

Night: Coral Reef Ecology & Student Reports on their days work. Field Journal Entries

A false color infrared image of San Salvador. The deep ocean and dramatic drop-offs are accessible from many shoreline locations. The abundant inland lakes are different colors because of differences in turbidity and salinity. Salinities vary from hypersaline, such as found at Storrs Lake, to fresh. I have labeled many of the sites where we will be studying. Unmodified image courtesy of Gottfried, P. K., C. A. Clark, P. J. Godfrey, and G. W. Smith, 1992, 4th Symposium on the Natural History of the Bahamas and NASA.

Day 7

a.m.: We will examine a few of the inland lakes on the island.

p.m.: Rice Bay snorkel/ patch reef analysis/ Manhead Key swim. Compare Rice Bay environment with that of East beach. Check out images and movies of Manhead Key

night: Group discussions of Reef Comparisons/Floral & Faunal Analysis. Field Journal Entries. Fish ID Quiz

Day 8

a.m.: Cockburntown Reef: This is certainly one of the best exposed and studied elevated Pleistocene reef. We will perform transects on the reef and identify faunal remains. Check out images and movies of Cockburntown Fossil Reef.

P.m.: North of Snapshot Reef, there is an area known as the "drop-off." Here, water depths change rapidly to a maximum depth of about 2000m. We will compare and contrast the reef community here with Snapshot Reef and the high-energy barrier reef. Field Journal Entries

Who will be the first to spot one this year?

Night: Discussion of Reefs Continued

Day 9

a.m.: Dump Reef/Intertidal Zones. Here, we will examine extensive tidal pools for invertebrate organisms. Research Teams

p.m.: The Grotto. We will spend part of the afternoon snorkeling & SCUBA diving in the Grotto, a semi-protected lagoon on the windward side of San Salvador. We will also examine the rocky intertidal zone and Pleistocene coral reefs. Altar Cave? Check out images and movies of the beautiful Grotto area

Night: Discussion of Grassbed Ecology/Sample analysis/Night Snorkel?? Field Journal Entries Coral ID Quiz

Day 10

all day: We will proceed to Pigeon Creek -- a tidal Creek on the Windward side of the island. Here, we will do a snorkeling tour of the system from the upper reaches of the tidal creek, through the narrow channels, out onto the ebb-tide delta, and beyond to the seaward grassbeds. Samples will be collected from several environments within Pigeon Creek for analysis. On the way back to the field station, we will stop at Sandy Point to snorkel an area where the water increases in depth very close to the shore. Large brain and elkhorn corals are present in about 30 feet of water. Check out images and movies of the Pigeon Creek tidal estuary

night: Astronomy. Moon Lab. Project discussions and analysis. Field Journal Entries

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We will do a "night sky" search using binoculars, our telescope, star charts, the Voyager computer program, and yes, our eyes! The large spiral galaxy is known as M51, the Whirlpool galaxy.

Day 11

a.m.: Light House cave trip. We will go subterranean this a.m. Lights are essential. We should see some very interesting creatures including bats, shrimp, sponges, and isopods. Lighthouse visit follows so that we can get a fine view of the island. We will then visit Storr's Lake where living stromatolites are found. Check out images and movies of Lighthouse Cave!

P.m.: This afternoon we will go to "The Bluff" to examine tidal pools about two miles north of Pigeon Creek. Field Journal Entries

night: Night Snorkel/SCUBA?

Day 12

all day: Graham Harbor Systems Analysis: We are going to characterize the biological and physical characteristics of the microenvironments of Grahams Harbor. Do physical differences in habitat result in differences in the biota present? Can we discriminate between environments based upon the biota present in both the living communities and death assemblages? Environments sampled will be determined by the class -- they might include the intertidal habitat, near-shore habitats, sea grass areas, sand flats, scour pits, and coral reef areas. Our class will divide into teams, with each team being responsible for the characterization of each habitat within Grahams Harbor. Yet, rather than have each team do each environment separately, the class as a whole will participate in the delineation, sampling, and analysis of each environment in Grahams Harbor. At the completion of the project, project results will be presented to the class. Sampling transects will be established and current meters will be deployed. Check out images and movies of the San Salvador seagrass beds.

Night: Analysis of data/Statistical analysis of data/Group Discussion. Field Journal Entries

Equipment Resources

You will have access to, at a minimum, the following equipment for your research: tape measures, sampling vials, botanical, invertebrate & vertebrate field guides, coring devices, nets, vernier calipers, a refractometer, current meters, a telescope, SCUBA equipment, computers for word processing, graphing, data organization and statistical analysis, and last but not least, your minds!

Day 13

am: French Bay Snorkel/ Patch Reefs & Turtle Grass/Grotto Beach

afternoon: Last preparations for Bahamas Natural History Student Research Presentations

Night: Final Exam/ Bahamas Natural History Student Research Presentations

Day 14

a.m.: Surprise Coral Reef Snorkel. Course Reflections Check out images and movies of Bahamian reefs.

5 p.m.: Return to Miami, Florida Head on home.

Night: Head on Home

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Tropical Marine Ecology Reader


READER TABLE OF CONTENTS: Tropical Marine Ecology

Below you will find a compilation of readings and exercises on a variety of important subjects. Assigned readings will commence early in the spring semester, 2004. I will make these readings available either through Miami University's Reserve Program, on our Assignment and Discussion page, or I will e-mail you the readings as PDF documents. These readings will prepare you for our many class discussions during the field portion of the course.
The Everglades & Florida Keys
Changes in freshwater inflow from the Everglades to Florida Bay including effects on biota and biotic processes: A review
Sea level control on stability of Everglades wetlands
Ecology of the American alligator in a seasonally fluctuating environment
Ecology of the American alligator in a seasonally fluctuating environment
Genereux, D. and E. Slater. 1999. Water exchange between canals and surrounding aquifer and wetlands in the Southern Everglades, USA. Journal of Hydrology 219:153-168.
Fourqurean, J. W. and M. B. Robblee. 1997. Florida Bay: a history of recent ecological changes. Southeast Environmental Research Program at the Florida Institute of Technology. pp 1-25.
The Florida reef tract
The Florida Keys
Hands-On Experiences
Cummins, H. 2000. An introduction to statistical sampling: The Frisbee Lab
Cummins, H. 2000. Understanding Tides: Using the moon as a tool for discovery oriented learning
Cummins, H. 2000. A Sense of Time & Place: Using student-created metaphors to comprehend geologic time
Cummins, H. 2000. Who's on first? What's on second? The principles of Taxonomy and Classification
Cummins, H. 2000. Figuring Out One's Location on Earth: Sun-angles & Latitude
Miscellaneous Phyla
Cummins, H. 2000. Phylum Porifera
Cummins, H. 2000. Phylum Coelenterata
Cummins, H. 2000. Phylum Mollusca
Cummins, H. 2000. Benthic Marine Algae
Cummins, H. 2000. Flora & Faunal Lists
Mangroves Systems
Kuenzler, E. J. 1974. Mangrove Swamp Systems. In: Coastal Ecological Systems of the United States. Editors: Odom, Copeland & MacMahon. The Conservation Foundation
Mangrove swamp communities
Mangrove swamp systems
Kovacs, J. M. 1999. Assessing mangrove use at the local scale. Landscape and Urban Planning 43: 201-208.
Mangrove conservation in Singapore: A physical or a psychological impossibility? Biodiversity and Conservation 9:309-332.
Macintosh, D and S. Zisman. 1995. The status of mangrove ecosystems: Trends in the utilisation and management of mangrove resources, p 1-25
Kaplowitz, M.D. 2000. Identifying ecosystem services using multiple methods: Lessons from the mangrove wetlands of Yucatan, Mexico. Agriculture and Human Values 17: 169-179.
Bandaranayake, W. M. 1998. Traditional and medicinal uses of mangroves. Mangroves and Salt Marshes 2:133-148.
Coral Reefs and Global Change
Rilov, G and Y. Benayahu. 2000. Fish assemblage on natural versus vertical artificial reefs: the rehabilitation perspective. Marine Biology 136:931-942.
Kappelle, M., Van Vuuren, M., and P. Baas. 2000. Effects of climate change on biodiversity: a review and identification of key research issues. Biodiversity and Conservation 8:1383-1397.
Wood, R. The Ecological Evolution of Reefs. 1998. Annual Review Ecology Systematics, 29: 179-206.
Hodson, G. 1999. A global assessment of human effects on coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 38(5):345-355.
Carlton, C., Geller, J., Reaka-Kudla, M., and E. Norse. 1999. Historical extinctions in the sea. Annual Review Ecology Systematics, 30: 515-538.
Normille, D. 2000. Some coral bouncing back from El Nino. Science, 288(5468): 941a.
Pennisi, E. 2000. Brighter prospects for the world's coral reefs? Science,
Harvell, C.D., Kim, K., Burkholder, J.M., Colwell, R.R., Epstein, P.R., Grimes, D.J., Hofmann, E.E., and Lipp E.K.1999. Emerging marine diseases--Climate links and anthropogenic factors. Science, 285(5433):1505-1510.
Edinger, E.N. and M.J. Risk. 2000. Reef classification by coral morphology predicts coral reef conservation value. Biological Conservation 92:1-13.
Newell, N.D. 1972. The Evolution of Reefs. Scientific American 226:54-65.
Connell, J.H. 1978. Diversity in Tropical Rainforests and Coral Reefs. Science 199:1302-1310.
Cortes, J. 1997. Biology and geology of eastern pacific coral reefs. Coral Reefs 16, Supplement: S39-S46.
Connel, J.H. 1997. Disturbance and recovery of coral assemblages. Coral Reefs 16, Supplement:S101-S113.
Hubbel, S.P. 1997. A unified theory of biogeography and relative species abundance and its application to tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Coral Reefs 16, Supplement: S9-S21.
Historical perspectives on algae and reefs: Have reefs been misnamed?
The Cockburntown Town fossil coral reef of San Salvador Island, Bahamas
Some literature of coral reefs
Wilson, E.O. 1990. Biophilia and the Conversation Ethic. Ch 1. Edited by S. Kelert and E.O. Wilson.
Fish Stuff
Chabanet, P., Ralambondrainy H., Amanieu M., Faure, G, and R. Galzin. 1997. Relationships between coral reef substrata and fish. Coral Reefs 16: 93-102.
Samoilys, M. A. and G. Carlos.2000. Determining methods of underwater visual census for estimating the abundance of coral reef fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 57:289-304.
Sazima, I., Moura R. L., and C. Sazima. 1999. Cleaning activity of juvenile anglefish, Pomacanthus paru, on the reefs of the Abrolhos Archipelago, western South Atlantic. Environmental Biology of Fishes 56:399-407.
Bolser, 1996. A fish-eye view for the beginner. In-house article
Lara, E.N. and E. A. Gonzalez. 1998. The relationship between reef fish community structure and environmental variables in the southern Mexican Caribbean. Journal of Fish Biology 53 (Supplement A):209-221.
Lettourneur, Y. 2000. Spatial and temporal variability in territoriality of a tropical benthic damselfish on a coral ree (Reunion Island) Environmental Biology of Fishes 57:377-391.
Other Large-Scale Ecosystems and Global Change
Short, F.T. and H. A. Neckles. 1999. The effects of global change on seagrasses, Aquatic Botany 63:169-196.
Fourqurean, J. W. and M. B. Robblee. 1997. Florida Bay: a history of recent ecological changes. Southeast Environmental Research Program at the Florida Institute of Technology. pp 1-25.
Faunal relationships in Caribbean seagrass beds
The intertidal zone: Adaptations and trophic relations
Miscellaneous Fun
The Atmosphere and Instability: Clouds and thunderstorms

Some Important Marine Algae Common in Tropical Lagoons












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The"Don't Leave Home Without It List"

Visit our friends at!

You are allowed to bring 40 pounds of personal gear. Does this include my camera? Yes. My purse? Yes. Books? Yes. Dive gear? Yes. Do you really mean to include everything in the 40 pounds? Yes!!! Okay. With that in mind, what should be brought?

PASSPORT (Nothing else is as good as this to ease your way through immigration.)

It is hot and informal in the Bahamas. We will do a lot of hiking, easy climbing, lots of sweating.
Clothing dries rapidly on a normal breezy day.

1 Pair of Dive Booties!!
A Photocopy of your passport

2 Swim suits (wear one, dry one)
3 Shorts (hiking, lectures, eating, just about everything)
3 Short-sleeved shirts/T-shirts (see shorts)
2 Long pants (to swim in to limit sun exposure)
2 Long-sleeved shirts (limit sun exposure, mosquitoes at night?)
3 Socks (hiking, remember...)
1 Sneakers #1 (hiking, probably will get wet; "flip-flops" will NOT do)
1 Sneakers #2 (this pair for walking through mud, disposable?)
1 Hat (sun protection, wide brim, good string to keep it on your head)
1 Neckerchief (sun protection)
1 Light jacket or sweat shirt
1 Raincoat (or a big smile)
1 Flip-flops (personal choice; in shower)
Sunglasses (a must)
Suntan oil/lotion (number 15-?; bring enough for San Salvador - don't expect to buy any on San Salvador)
Skin lotion (because your suntan lotion wasn't enough)
Insect repellent (lotion takes less room - "MUSKOL" works best, but it dissolves nylon and removes finishes on furniture.)
Soap, Shampoo
Bath towel, Wash cloth
Beach towel
Sheets and a pillow case (some people may want a light blanket -- sleeping bags are too hot)
Travel alarm clock (or get a friend to wake you)
Money (for personal use: we'll be eating out one night, beer is $3/bottle, soda is $1/bottle, baskets, T-shirts)
Snorkel (The course will provide snorkeling vests for your use.)
Canteen or water bottle
Camera (a polarizing filter helps)
Film (all you will need, don't expect to buy any in the Bahamas)
Field notebook ( a 8.6" by 11", hard cover, preferably waterproof, lined book/Forestry Supplies!)
Personal journal
Pencils, pens
Bandaids and possibly moleskin (if you blister easily)
Any medicine you need (inform instructors)
Day pack
Ziplocks (They come in handy)
Travel Mug

SCUBA DIVERS: bring your own B.C., regulator, weight belt (no weights), and expect to pay $10 for each tank of air/dive.

N.B. There are very few stores on the Bahamas. They may have flashlights, but no batteries, 126 print film, but no 35 mm slide film. Bring everything you will need.

Important Contacts: Dates, People, Places, and Phone Numbers

IMPT: The class begind in Ft. Lauderdale on May 24 and ends in MIAMI late on June 6.

Initial Tropical Marine Ecology Course Meeting:

We will meet in Ft. Lauderdale on May 24, 2015, 6:30 pm at :

Ramada Inn - Ft. Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port
2275 State Road 84
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
Phone: 954-584-4000

I have made reservations for every participant. Typically four people will share a room, and the cost of the room is included in your fees. Just check in. We plan to get together ~ 6:30 pm. Please call my room and leave a message that you have arrived.

If you are flying to Florida, the Ramada Inn can pick you up at the airport with their own (free) shuttle service. Sometimes air transportation is cheaper through Miami, and shuttle busses connect the airports (for a fee). The exact time for the end of the trip in Miami on June 6 is not certain due to flight scheduling and unforeseen delays. To be safe, return reservations should be made for the next day, in this case, June 7 .

People, Places and Phone Numbers for Each Leg of the Course:

Dr. Hays Cummins Western Program, Miami Univ, Oxford, OH 45056 Ph: 513-529-1338 / e-mail:

JLisa Iams, Western Program, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056 Ph: 513-529-2233;

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL.: 7:00 pm, May 24, 2015
Ramada Inn - Ft. Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port
2275 State Road 84
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
Phone: 954-584-4000
FLORIDA KEYS: First 3 days of course- Rock Reef Resort- May 25, 26, 27
P.O. Box 73
Key Largo, Florida 33037
Phone: 305-852-2401
SAN SALVADOR-Gerace Research Center:May 28-June 6
Gerace Research Center (formerly Bahamian Field Station)
San Salvador, Bahamas
Phone: 242-331-2520
Dr. Tom Rothfus, Executive Director)

For further information, contact Hays Cummins or phone me @ 513-529-1338. The course is filled on a first-come, first-served basis!

Marine Ecology Syllabus Info on the PREVIOUS Page

Course Announcement & Brief Description//Further Information Essential Participant Information
Tropical Marine Ecology Syllabus Latest Florida Keys and Bahamas Weather
Evaluation Required Texts
Student Led Presentation Topics Marine Ecology Course IMAGES

More Syllabus Info on Page 1

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