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Bahamian Conservation Biology Summer 2022 (6 credits)
BSC 495 (Ecological and Evolutionary Dimensions of Conservation Biology in the Bahamas, 3 cr.)
FW 445 (Human Dimensions of Conservation Biology in the Bahamas, 3 cr.)
Dr. Brian Langerhans and Dr. Nils Peterson
North Carolina State University

This page will serve as the primary source of information for the course, including the posting of readings, assignments,
relevant links, research project information, etc. Check back later for updates.

Latest Update: 14 July 2023.

General Course Information:
Dates of Entire 10-week Summer Program: May 17 - Aug 3, 2023 (includes offsite reading, writing, assignments, lectures, etc.)

Onsite Dates in The Bahamas: June 1-15, 2023


Research Project Proposal Guidelines

Suggested Packing List for the trip

Fish and Coral Identification Lists

Swimming: One critical requirement for the program is the ability to swim (moderate to advanced capabilities). Many field activities require swimming (especially snorkeling), although advanced capabilities and diving certifications are not required. There will be a swim test conducted on the first day on-site to ensure that all students can safely conduct any required activity.

Travel Logistics:
Everyone should now have their flights arranged for arrival on Andros June 1st and departure on June 15th. Your luggage will be checked to Nassau, where you will clear customs, and bring your luggage to the LeAir airline desk in the Domestic Departure airport for check-in.

Once in The Bahamas, be aware of "island time," and roll with the punches. Some tasks might take much longer than you expect. Be prepared for delays. However, we have found that this travel arrangement typically results in the most prompt arrivals and departures (and that more luggage typically arrives on time using the recommended travel plan).

Don't forget you need a passport to enter the Bahamas!

WELCOME BACK TO THE STATES! ...now Get Back to Work!
--Next Deadline... July 14: Paper second rough draft (with tables and figures) due!--

You should be busy organizing your data and putting together your final results (text, figures, tables) and writing your paper.
We will provide guidance, and you should feel free to ask questions and schedule meetings. Good luck!

Pre-trip Readings:
The readings below are meant to provide both a general background for this study abroad program, as well as provide the initial foundation for your literature reviews for your research projects. Everyone should read the papers listed for each project. Each group is expected to find a number of additional papers relevant to their research topic. To better understand your topic, the more reading, the better.

- Brief introduction to some study systems and research on Andros Island:
-You can skim these to get a sense of the study systems and questions addressed on Andros.-
  Layman et al. 2004
  Langerhans et al. 2007
  Heinen et al. 2013
  Hayes et al. 2015
  Heinen-Kay et al. 2015
  Shapiro et al. 2016
  Valdez et al. 2019
  Hulthén et al 2021
  Jenkins et al. 2021

- Project Option 1: Baseline Data for Conservation Prioritization of Inland Blue Holes:
  Björnerås et al. 2020
  TNC Bahamas Protected Project 2017
  Steadman et al 2015
  Langerhans 2018
  Gonzalez et al. 2011
  Heinen et al. 2013 (also above)
  Kjellmark 1996
  Smart 1984

- Project Option 2: Evaluation of Blue-hole Ecotourism on Andros Island:
  Cassola et al. 2022
  Huth and Morgan 2011
  Popudyal et al. 2020
  Ropicki et al. 2021
  Frew et al. 2018
  Crompton et al. 2001

Research Project Summaries:

Baseline Data for Conservation Prioritization of Inland Blue Holes
Our planet is experiencing extremely rapid environmental change, precipitating Earth’s sixth mass extinction. The ultimate cause of these rapid changes is human activity. For many reasons, we cannot conserve ALL biodiversity and other natural features. Therefore, it is imperative to identify the most important areas for conservation to effectively maintain the most salient processes, organisms, and features for future generations. Inland blue holes of The Bahamas are well-recognized as critically important but vulnerable anchialine habitats in need of protection. However, only a small percentage of blue holes are currently protected, and their protection was not previously prioritized based on conservation importance. Inland blue holes can be prioritized for protection based on diverse criteria, but regardless of what criterion-weighting scheme a conservation policy uses, we need accurate data on biotic and abiotic characteristics of blue holes to make evidence-based decisions. To date, we still know relatively little about many aspects of most blue holes. This project will try to fill this gap by measuring a range of features across many blue holes to build a strong baseline of knowledge (e.g. measuring water chemistry [including vertical depth profiles], tidal amplitude, logging temporal variation in temperature/conductivity, fish density, plant species community, endangered species habitat use [using trail cameras], broad zooplankton and macroinvertebrate assemblages, documenting cave features).
    Team Members: C Atkins, Isabel Baillie, Renee LeClair, Reagan McGuinn, Sydney Suits, Logan Wikfors

Evaluation of Blue-hole Ecotourism on Andros Island
The purpose of this project is to estimate how blue-hole based tourism contributes to Andros's rural economy. This is important because blue holes are a unique ecological feature that are extremely threatened by pollution, development, water extraction, etc., and demonstrating that they have certain types of value helps justify their conservation. We will survey visitors to blue holes to estimate their travel expenses, and how those expenses are associated with diverse recreational activities on Andros including blue-hole based tourism. We will also attempt to use camera traps and interviews with tour operators to estimate the total number of visitors at popular blue holes. With these data we will then model the overall contribution of blue-hole tourists to the Androsian economy.

    Team Members: Alexandra Akins, Rob O'Connell, Victoria Riabtseva

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