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Bahamian Conservation Biology Summer 2019 (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: 16 May 2019.

General Course Information:
Dates of Entire 10-week Summer Program: May 15 - July 30, 2019 (includes offsite reading, writing, assignments, lectures, etc.)
Onsite Dates in The Bahamas: May 2 - June 3, 2019


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:
Students are responsible for air travel to/from Andros Island. We will arrive on Andros Monday May 20th and depart on Monday June 3rd. Everyone should have received flight suggestions and booked their flights by now. If there are any concerns, please contact Drs. Langerhans and Peterson. Everyone should fly roundtrip to Nassau, Bahamas (arriving by mid-day May 20th, leaving late afternoon-evening June 3rd) using a major airline carrier, and fly roundtrip from Nassau to Fresh Creek (AKA Andros Town) using LeAir. Your luggage will be checked to Nassau, where you will clear customs, and bring your luggage to the LeAir desk area at the end of the domestic departure terminal check-in (Wendy's will be on your left). We will meet in that area after arrival, as LeAir will unlikely be able to check us in until a couple hours before departure time.

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!

--Next Deadline... May 18 5pm: submission of research project proposal first draft--

So, you're on a research team now... it's time to write your research proposal!
Start by reading the guidelines and suggested readings for your project, find and read additional references for your project, read and think about the brief description of your project given below (think about how you would best answer those questions), discuss ideas with your teammate(s), and begin with an outline. Then expland that outline as a team into a full-fledged (rough draft) proposal. Finding and reading primary literature is key--use the suggested readings as the starting points. You can find more relevant articles by paying attention to the references cited in these articles and searching for yourself (e.g. Google Scholar, including seeing what papers have cited these articles). Feel free to contact Drs. Brian Langerhans (langerhans@ncsu.edu) or Nils Peterson (nils_peterson@ncsu.edu) with specific questions. We will provide considerable further assistance/guidance after this draft to help you revise your plans and make a team proposal presentation. After some first-hand experience on the island, and substantial further on-island discussions, your final revised (and now very strong) proposal will be due May 25th.

Be sure to follow the Research Proposal Guidelines.

Submit your proposal by 5pm May 18 to Drs. Brian Langerhans and Nils Peterson.

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 on Andros Island:
-You can skim these to get a sense of the study systems and questions addressed on Andros.-
  Layman et al. 2004
  Valentine-Rose et al. 2007
  Langerhans et al. 2007
  Heinen et al. 2013
  Hayes et al. 2015
  Heinen-Kay et al. 2015
  Shapiro et al. 2016
  Silvy et al. 2017

- Project Option 1: Habitat-induced environmental change and diel behavioral patterns:
  Fraser et al. 2004
  McCauley et al. 2012
  Reebs 2002
  Lima and Dill 1990
  Payne et al. 2012
  Fox and Bellwood 2011
  Loe et al. 2007

- Project Option 2: Effects of predation risk on aggressive behavior:
  Heinen-Kay et al. 2016
  Archard and Braithwaite 2011
  Way et al. 2015
  Reale et al. 2007
  Eisenreich et al. 2017
  Magurran et al. 1993

- Project Option 3: Impacts of Marine Protected Areas on Androsians:
  Broad and Sanchirico 2008
  Hayes et al. 2015
  Eriksson et al. 2019
  Wise 2014
  Gurney et al. 2014

Research Project Summaries:

Human-induced environmental change and diel behavioral patterns
Activity patterns of animals--often characterized as diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular--play obvious and important roles in shaping organismal life histories. However, the role of human-induced environmental change in shaping these behaviors is largely unknown. When humans induce rapid changes in the environmental structure or dynamics, the predation regime, or artifical nighttime lighting, resident animals might alter their diel behavioral patterns via plasticity or rapid evolution (or both). This project will test whether human-induced habitat fragmentation in tidal creeks has repeatedly driven changes in day/night activity patterns in Bahamas mosquitofish (Gambusia hubbsi). Using visual observations of overall activity and key behaviors (e.g. feeding, sexual behaviors) during both daytime and nighttime at approximately 6 tidal creek localities (half unfragmented, half fragmented), this project will uncover the role of human activities in altering diel behavioral patterns of organisms that persist in human-altered environments.
    Team Members: Kirsten Boleyn, Nathan Han, Bridget Knapp, Rachel Rackers

Effects of predation risk on aggressive behavior
Nonlethal effects of predators on prey can be substantial, and yet have experienced far less research than mortality-induced ecological and evolutionary consequences. We still have much to learn about how the risk of predation influences the evolution of aggressive behaviors in prey--behaviors that can have substantial and far-reaching consequences for species' ecology and life history. This project will level of aggression in Bahamas mosquitofish (Gambusia hubbsi) living in blue holes. Blue holes are analogous to aquatic islands in a sea of land, and Bahamas mosquitofish colonized these environments during the past 15,000 years by leaving their ancestral marine environment and traversing inland marshes. Ever since, they have been living either with a major predatory fish (bigmouth sleeper, Gobiomorus dormitor) or in the absence of any piscine predators. This project will test whether aggression of Bahamas mosquitofish differs between populations experiencing high or low risk of predation. Prior studies have revealed differences between predation regimes in aggression levels of male, but not female, Bahamas mosquitofish--however, these studies were based on underwater observations in blue holes and did not experimentally examine aggressive levels given the opportunity to interact one-on-one with a perceived conspecific. This project will reveal how differences in chronic risk of predation can lead to changes in aggression levels of animals.
    Team Members: Caroline Branan, Ryan Gallagher, Jacob Hill, Evan Storie

Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a common conservation tool used to protect marine resources such as commercial and recreational fisheries. In the Bahamas, MPAs cover over 3,000 square miles and are managed by the Department of Marine Resources with the primary goal of increasing fish stocks. Studies outside of the Bahamas suggest MPAs have both positive and negative impacts on the economic situation of local fishing communities. Research also suggests that MPAs are most successful when socio-economic factors, such as fishers livelihoods, are considered when planning and implementing MPAs. During our study abroad trip (May 20 - June 3) we propose to conduct interviews with local fishers on Andros Island to investigate the following topics:
(1) Effects of conservation on economic income,
(2) Access to alternative livelihoods,
(3) Compliance with local marine conservation efforts,
(4) Knowledge of conservation rules,
(5) Relationships with conservation authorities and
(6) Opinions on conservation efforts.
    Team Members: Kristen Blake, Mike Rehnberg, Tyana Thorne

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