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Bahamian Conservation Biology Summer 2017 (6 credits)
BIO 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
TA: Dr. Kaj Hulthén
North Carolina State University

Ecology, Evolution, and Human Dimensions of Conservation Biology in The Bahamas:

Greatly expand and apply your knowledge in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology while having a blast in unique Caribbean ecosystems this summer! Apply now. Application deadline is February 15th (payment and post-decision materials by April 1st).

Every day of this amazing study abroad program you will be immersed in the field techniques of Tropical Conservation Biology, and see some of the most spectacular and remote locations the Caribbean Sea has to offer. Some highlights include: tons of snorkeling in diverse marine ecosystems and freshwater blue holes, hike in unique and rare Caribbean habitats, interact with maritime communities, opportunities for kayaking and diving, and conduct research projects in teams that address important unanswered questions concerning ecology, evolutionary biology, invasive species, conservation, community-based resource management, and environmental education. The program directors have worked very hard to keep the cost of the program as low as possible, making it by far one of the most affordable study abroad programs offered by NCSU--CHEAPER THAN STAYING ON CAMPUS FOR SUMMER SCHOOL! With >20 years of research/teaching experience on this island between the two directors, you’ll be learning from some of the leading experts on the topics in this region.

The program involves both offsite and onsite components. While off site, requirements include readings, writing (e.g. proposal, final paper), homework, and data organization and analysis. The onsite portion is centered on Andros Island - a large and sparsely populated Caribbean island - and focuses on hands-on learning of a range of issues in ecology, evolution, and human dimensions of conservation biology. Field techniques center on three critical aquatic habitats: coral reefs, tidal creeks, and blue holes. Andros offers an ideal opportunity for students to explore biodiversity and conservation, with the world’s third largest coral reef system, over 100 shallow, oligotrophic tidal creeks, and over 300 unique water-filled caves called blue holes. Students will experience first-hand the impacts of human activities on natural ecosystems, as they will conduct field work in both heavily impacted localities, as well as remote, pristine environments.

The course covers both science and policy, emphasizing hands-on research as a large component of the program. The core of the program involves semi-independent research projects, where students work in small teams through the entire process of science: hypothesis, study design, proposal, study implementation, data collection, analysis, interpretation, written report. Several projects from previous courses have resulted in manuscripts submitted to and published in top peer-reviewed journals. Through a combination of field trips, classroom and laboratory work, occasional guest speakers, and group research projects, students will: 1) learn fundamental concepts regarding ecological and evolutionary processes operating within the three primary aquatic ecosystems in The Bahamas, 2) evaluate the importance, procedures, and scientific foundations for conservation, management, and environmental education initiatives in The Bahamas, and 3) learn field-based research methods and techniques.

For the actual trip, students will fly to Andros Island, The Bahamas, where we will spend most waking hours together for the following two weeks learning first-hand about conservation science in The Bahamas. We will be staying at a hotel in the settlement of Staniard Creek, nestled between a sprawling Caribbean beach and a tidal creek (housing, meals, lectures, and labwork will occur there). Accommodations are hotel-style rooms with ~2 beds, bathroom, table, refrigerator, and air conditioning. Cost of the program includes tuition, lodging, all meals, and on-island transportation. Students will be responsible for airfare to San Andros, Andros Island (step-by-step recommendations will be provided), recommended materials (e.g., mask, snorkel, fins), and pocket money for souvenirs, etc.

Some testimonials:
“It was a blast and an eye-opening experience.”
“I had a great time while on the island and learned a lot. I enjoyed having an intense research experience from start to finish.”
“Overall, if I could do it all over again I would, and Brian and Nils are just great, fun and brilliant instructors.”
“Dr. Langerhans and Dr. Peterson were an excellent team. Working through an actual experiment from beginning to end is something I’ve never done, and I am surprised that I thought it was so cool.”

Morning view outside your cabin.

on a boat...

Rainbow Blue Hole.

on a boat...
- Some previous publications resulting from student research:
Heinen et al. 2013
Hayes et al. 2015
Heinen-Kay et al. 2015
Heinen-Kay et al. 2016
Shapiro et al. 2016
Silvy et al. 2017

General Course Information:
Cost of the Program: $2500.

Dates of Entire 10-week Summer Program: May 17 - July 28, 2017 (includes offsite reading, writing, assignments, lectures, etc.)
Onsite Dates in The Bahamas: May 22 - June 5, 2017

Apply here

Help fund your trip

See last year's Syllabus

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.

Grade or S/U?: We recommend these courses be taken for a grade, but will allow S/U credit only on a case-by-case basis. While fairly intense, if you're excited about this program, ready to work hard, and are accepted into the program, then you should do well (average grade of A- in the past). Let us know if you have difficulty with enrollment.

Still have questions?: You can contact the directors if you have questions or would like more information: langerhans-at-ncsu.edu, nils_peterson-at-ncsu.edu.

Travel Logistics:
Students are responsible for air travel to/from Andros Island. We will arrive on Andros Monday May 22nd and depart on Monday June 5th. We will provide further details at a later date regarding specific flights to use, but the general plan will be to fly roundtrip to Nassau, Bahamas (arriving by mid-day May 22nd, leaving late afternoon-evening June 5th) using a major airline carrier, and fly roundtrip from Nassau to either Fresh Creek (AKA Andros Town) or San Andros, Andros Island using a domestic carrier (e.g. Western Air, 4pm flight to Andros, 7:30am flight return to Nassau). Your luggage will be checked to Nassau, where you will clear customs, and bring your luggage to the relevant airline desk in the Domestic Departure airport check-in.

Once in the Bahamas, be aware of "island time," and roll with the punches. Many things do not run on time, and many seeminingly simple or routine tasks in the US may take very long in the Bahamas. 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!

Bahamas Study Abroad

North Carolina State University

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