Coral Reef Ecology and Biology

Course Aim

Student Learning Outcomes
1.Understand the basic characteristics of tropical waters 2.Understand the major characteristics of the key animals and plants on reefs
3.Recognize key processes on shallow and deep reefs
4.Appreciate variability among reefs, including those of the Okinawa
5.Consider the threats to coral reefs, and how they might be conserved
6.Understand how we conduct marine research, and how to read and interpret research papers

Course Description

Discover the largest and most complex biological structures on earth in this introduction to tropical coral reefs and the organisms and processes responsible for their formation. From an overview of reefs and their tropical marine environment, expand into the evolution, systematics, physiology, ecology and symbiosis of reef building corals. Learn about structure and ecological dynamics of coral reef fish communities, and the major characteristics of other key animals and plants on reefs. Recognize key processes on shallow and deep reefs, and variability among reefs, including those of the Okinawan area.  Examine cutting-edge questions in coral reef biology and conservation. Critically analyze natural and human disturbances to reefs with an emphasis on current models of management and conservation.  Design a marine refuge area based on ecological and conservation principles. Develop practical skills in sample and survey methods via snorkeling activities. 
Target Students
Students with background in general biology or marine science who wish to become tropical marine biologists specializing in coral reefs and coral reef fish.


25% literature review; 50% final exam; 25% field trip and data analysis

Prerequisites or Prior Knowledge



Goldberg, W.M. The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms

Sheppard C.R.C, Davy, S.K., and Pilling, G.M. The Biology of Coral Reefs