Marine Studies

Marine Studies

Since its inception, College of the Atlantic has been committed to being the college in the Atlantic. Our shorefront campus and two offshore field stations provide an excellent gateway for students and faculty pursuing Marine Studies. From here, students go on to do internships, research, and graduate work from the Arctic to the Antarctic, on every continent, and in the oceans and seas around the globe.

Students focusing in Marine Studies choose a set of foundational courses, affording them a solid base for advanced studies and research. In keeping with COA's interdisciplinary approach, students interested in Marine Studies include courses from other areas-such as photography, history, creative writing, or international law-in their curriculum. The college also provides a wide variety of classes and research experience to prepare students interested in graduate or professional work in marine biology or related fields. Students interested in other areas are able to design a course of study appropriate to their goals. Those interested in entering the work force directly after COA will have the intellectual tools and field experience to ensure success.

While the academic program is built around a suite of core classes, COA is committed to getting students in the field: virtually every course offered at COA has a significant field component. In some cases, the "field trip" is as close as our own pier; in other cases, it can be as far as the coast of the Yucatán or the Virgin Islands. There are opportunities to work with faculty during breaks, as well as during the academic term, assisting in ongoing studies and developing independent programs of research. Students also may get involved in marine policy and environmental politics. With faculty mentors, students come up with their own research questions, write grant proposals, and present their results at meetings of national and international scientific societies.


ES005Animal Behavior

This course reviews how simple and stereotyped actions may be built into complex behaviors and even into apparently sophisticated group interactions. Emphasis is placed on contemporary understanding of Darwinian selection, ethology, behavioral ecology and sociobiology. There are two classes a week. Extensive readings are chosen from a text and articles from scientific and popular periodicals. Evaluations are based on participation in discussions and several quizzes. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Requires a previous intermediate-level course in species zoology, and signature of the instructor. Offered every other year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $10. *ES*

ES1018Physics I: Mechanics and Energy

This course is the first of a two course sequence covering a range of standard introductory physics topics. The goals of the course are: to introduce students to important physical ideas both conceptually and mathematically; and to help students improve their quantitative skills. The first part of the course consists of a broad look at the three conservation laws: the conservation of momentum, energy, and angular momentum.  Along the way, we'll learn about vectors, work, potential energy, thermal energy, and the energy stored in chemical bonds. We'll conclude with a treatment of Newton's laws of motion.  If time permits, we may briefly cover some topics from chaotic dynamics.  Evaluations will be based on participation in class and lab, weekly homework, and two untimed, open-notes exams. This course makes extensive use of algebra and trigonometry. Potentially difficult math topics will be reviewed as necessary. Prerequisites: Understanding Functions, a strong high school algebra background, or consent of the instructor.

Level:  Introductory. Class limit: 20.  Lab fee: $40.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES QR

ES1022Introduction to Oceanography

Planet Earth is misnamed. Seawater covers approximately 70% of the planet's surface, in one giant all-connected ocean. This ocean has a profound effect on the planet's climate, chemistry, ecosystem, and energy resources. Billions of years ago life began there, in what now we regard as the last unexplored frontier of this planet.  In this course we examine the various disciplines within oceanography, including aspects of geology and sedimentology, chemical, dynamic and biological oceanography. The course concludes with an introduction to marine ecosystems examined at various trophic levels, including phyto/zooplankton, fish and other macrofauna. Fieldwork (weather dependent) includes trips on RV Indigo, trips to intertidal and estuarine ecosystems, and possible visits to the college's islands, Mount Desert Rock and Great Duck Island. Evaluation will be by lab, quizzes and a final paper.

Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $150. Class limit: 20. Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES1028Marine Biology

This is a broad course, covering the biology of organisms in various marine habitats (rocky intertidal, mud and sand, estuaries, open ocean, coral reefs, deep sea), and some policy and marine management and conservation issues. The largest part of this course is focused on learning to identify and understand the natural history and ecology of the marine flora and fauna of New England, with an emphasis on the rocky intertidal of Mount Desert Island.  The course meets twice per week with one afternoon for laboratory work or field trips.  Evaluations are based on the quality of participation in class, one in-class practical, several sets of essay questions, and a field notebook emphasizing natural history notes of local organisms.  This class is intended for first year students, who will have priority during registration.  Returning students may take this course only with permission of the instructor.   

Level: Introductory.  Prerequisites:  Signature of instructor for returning students.  Offered at least every other year.  Class limit:  20.  Lab fee:  $60.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES1030Chemistry II

This is the second half of a two-term sequence designed to help students describe and understand properties of materials.  This course begins with a survey of how the internal structure of atoms leads to the formation of different sorts of bonds between them. It then considers how weaker forces can arise between molecules and the sorts of physical phenomena that such forces explain. The class concludes by considering how to describe and explain the rates at which (and the extents to which) chemicals reactions occur and applies such descriptions and explanations to common types of reactions (acid/base and redox).  Throughout the course, examples are drawn from living systems, the natural environment, and industrial products.  The course meets for three hours of lecture/discussion and for three hours of lab each week.  Chemistry 1 is a strongly recommended a prerequisite for this course. Evaluations are based on class participation, homework, midterm and final exams and a term project or paper. 

Level:  Introductory.  Lab fee: $60.  Meets the following requirements: ES, QR.  Offered every year.

ES1036Biology II: Form and Function

This is the second half of a 20-week, two-term introductory course in biology, providing an overview of the discipline and prerequisite for many intermediate and advanced biology courses. The course further explores topics introduced in Biology I, with a particular emphasis on biological structures and their role in the survival and reproduction of organisms. We will explore principles of evolution, classification, anatomy and physiology, epidemiology, behavior, and basic ecology. The primary focus of the course is on vertebrate animals and vascular plants, but we will make forays into other phylogenetic lineages at intervals. Weekly field and laboratory studies introduce students to the local range of habitats and a broad array of protists, plants, and animals. Attendance at two lectures and one lab each week is required; course evaluation is based on class participation, exams, preparation of a lab notebook, and a mid-term presentation.

Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Completion of Bio I with a grade of C or higher, or a score 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the IB Biology HL exam, or permission of instructor. Offered every year. Lab fee $40. Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES114Organic Chemistry I

This course explores the physical, chemical, and environmental properties of carbon-containing materials such as plastics, solvents, dyes, as well as all living things, and once-living materials. The lab exposes students to the common techniques of studying and manipulating such materials. Evaluations are based on midterm and final exam. The equivalent of this course is a prerequisite for biochemistry. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: A previous chemistry course. Offered every other year. Lab fee: $20. *ES*


The study of ornithology is as old as human society itself. Birds are particularly conspicuous elements of our world, and figure prominently in our art, religious symbolism, mythology, scientific endeavors and even sport. Birds appear in European paleolithic cave paintings from 14,000 years ago, domesticated fowl are known from India circa 3000 BC, and ancient scholars such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder devoted considerable time to ornithological observations. In this century great strides have been made in the study of population biology and ecology, navigation and migration, and human induced ecological change (sometimes called human ecology), all through the study of birds. This class introduces the student to the ornithological world by using both scientific literature and direct field observation. Systematics and physiology will be reviewed, but much of our effort will concentrate on reproductive ecology, behavior and the environment, and population dynamics. There will be a strong emphasis on field observation - learning how to look at birds and their behavior in order to perhaps make larger observations about their environment. Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $75. Class limit: 24. *ES*

ES191Field Ecology and Data Analysis

This course teaches students how to collect data in the field (outside), how to descriptively and quantitatively analyze these data using spreadsheet and statistical programs, and how to present the information in the form of a report or scientific paper. Some of the projects are experimental, while some are observational. There are four field projects during the term, and the tentative project areas are one terrestrial plant, one terrestrial animal, one marine, and one independent project. The methods learned will most likely include measuring population and demographic parameters, quantifying behavior, and estimating community composition. In addition to taking data in the field, students spend a substantial amount of time learning and applying statistical techniques to describe and analyze data. Lecture material includes designing data collection procedures, statistical analysis, and problem solving. Evaluations are based on write-ups of field exercises, homework on statistical techniques, oral presentations of work, and class participation. Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Signature of Instructor; intermediate level Ecology or similar courses are helpful. Offered approximately every other year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $ 20. *ES* *QR*

ES2012Introduction to Statistics and Research Design

This course introduces the basics of statistical analysis that can be used in either a scientific or a social science frame of reference.  While this course teaches you to perform both nonparametric and simple parametric analysis both by hand and computer, an emphasis will be placed on understanding the principles and assumptions of each test, rather than mathematical ability per se.  We will also learn how to report statistical results in journal format, and there will be plenty of lab time to sharpen skills.  Evaluation is based on lab participation, three quizzes, and a team project.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites:  A college mathematics course, or signature of the instructor.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $40.  Meets the following degree requirements: QR

ES2018Probability and Statistics

This course provides an introduction to probability and statistics. Its goal is to give students a good understanding of what kinds of questions statistical analyses can answer and how to interpret statistical results in magazines, books, and articles from a wide range of disciplines.  The course begins with understanding probability and how it can often lead to nonintuitive results.  Types of statistical analyses discussed in the second part of the course include comparisons of averages, correlation and regression, and applying confidence limits to estimates of studies from both the social and biological sciences.  Application of statistics to specific research problems is covered in greater depth in more advanced courses such as advanced statistics and field ecology and data analysis.  Evaluation is based on class participation, problem sets, and quizzes, and an independent project.  

Level:  Introductory/Intermediate.  Offered approximately every other year.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee $10.00   Meets the following degree requirements: QR

ES2030Marine Mammal Biology I

This course provides an introduction to the biology and natural history of marine mammals, specializing in species resident within the North Atlantic.  Topics covered include: phylogeny and taxonomy; anatomy and physiology; behavior; sensory ecology; and management/conservation issues.  The course includes field trips to observe animals in their natural habitat, dissection of specimens, and exposure to the professional peer review field. Students are expected to complete two individual literature-based reviews, one species- and one system-based, to be presented in class.  Assessment is based on class participation, presentations as well as written submissions. Lab fee covers costs of field trips, including potential boat and field station time, and optional travel to a regional conference during the term.  Offered every other year.

Level:  Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisite: Biology I, II and a writing-focused class or permission of instructor. Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $200.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES3012Calculus II

This course is the continuation of Calculus I.  It begins by considering further applications of the integral.  We then move to approximations and series; we conclude the course with a brief treatment of differential equations.  The mathematics learned are applied to topics from the physical, natural, and social sciences. There is a weekly lab/discussion section. Evaluations are based on homework, participation in class and lab, and tests.

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Calculus I or the equivalent.  Class limit: 20. Lab fee $10. Meets the following degree requirements: QR ES


This course examines ecology in the classic sense:  the study of the causes and consequences of the distribution and abundance of organisms.  The course consists of two one-and-one-half hour lectures per week plus weekly field trips and one three-day camping trip to Isle au Haut to conduct comparative studies on island ecology.  We examine the assumptions and predictions of general models of predator-prey interactions, inter- and intra-species competition, island biogeography, and resource use, and compare these models to the results of experimental tests in lab and field.  In addition we discuss appropriate techniques used by ecologists in collecting data in the field, and apply some of these techniques on field trips.  Readings include selections from the primary literature.  Students are evaluated on the basis of class participation, a number of quizzes, problem sets, and a final exam.  

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites:  Biology I and II, and signature of instructor.  Offered every year.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee $75.   Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES3020Invertebrate Zoology

This course is a phylogenetic survey of the major groups of animals without backbones.  These animals range in size from single cells to giant squids, and they include the vast majority of animals on earth.  Using text readings, assigned articles, and one afternoon per week of field/lab work, students gain an understanding of the classification, ecology, evolutionary relationships, and economic significance of this remarkably diverse collection of organisms.  Students are evaluated on participation, lab notebooks, and performance on weekly quizzes and two tests.

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisites:  Biology I and II or signature of instructor.  Offered every other year.  Class limit: 16.  Lab fee $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES


This course provides students with the opportunity to put their knowledge of ecology and diversity into an evolutionary framework.  The emphasis is on how populations of organisms are currently evolving, with a focus on the ecological context of natural selection.  Topics in the course include the genetic basis of evolutionary change, selection and adaptation, reproductive effort, co-evolution, the ecology and evolution of sex, behavioral ecology, speciation, and applied evolutionary ecology.  In addition to a textbook, students read several original research articles.  The course has two lectures and one discussion section per week.  Evaluations are based on exams and short essay sets.

Level:  Intermediate.  Prerequisite:  Biology I and II or equivalent.  Offered every other year.  Class limit: 20.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES3028Calculus III: Multivariable Calculus

The functions studied in Calculus I and II are one-dimensional.  But the universe of everyday experience is, at minimum, three-dimensional.  In this course we explore how Calculus can be extended so as to apply to functions of more than one variable, and thus apply to the three-dimensional world.  We will begin by reviewing vectors and functions of several variables.  We will then learn about partial derivatives and gradients and how apply these tools to multivariable optimization.  Turning our attention to integral calculus, we will next cover double and triple integrals and their applications.  We will conclude with a treatment of line integrals, flux integrals, the divergence and curl of a vector field, and Green's, and Stokes's theorems.  Evaluation will be based on class participation and lengthy weekly problem sets.  

Level:  Intermediate.   Prerequisites:  Calculus II or the equivalent or signature of instructor.   Lab fee: none.    Meets the following degree requirements: QR

ES305Tropical Marine Ecology

This course in tropical marine ecology explores topics including organismal diversity, natural history of fish, invertebrates, algae, habitat diversity (coral reefs, mangroves, etc.), fisheries, and conservation. Students meet as a class weekly, alternating between a single three-hour evening seminar session and individual meetings with the instructors to discuss primary readings and research projects. In addition, this course includes a required 18-day field trip to the Yucatan over winter break. Field work is based out of Akumal on the Yucatan peninsula. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: a strong performance in previous classes (especially biology), the ability to work well as a member of a group, and enthusiasm; permission of instructors required. Class limit: 8-14 students. Lab fee: estimated at $1200. *ES*

ES3060Marine Mammal Biology I: Field Studies

This Fall course provides an introduction to the biology and natural history of marine mammals, specializing in species resident within the North Atlantic, in a field setting.  Students spend the last two weeks in August of the preceding summer at the College's Mt. Desert Rock Marine Research Station. In addition to introductory topics in marine mammal biology that include phylogeny and taxonomy; anatomy and physiology; behavior; sensory ecology; and management/conservation issues, students also integrate themselves into the resident research team and work on team projects that will include observation of animals in their natural habitat. In the Fall, students meet 3-4 further times for dissection of specimens, team project presentations, and optional attendance at a regional conference. Assessment is based on two individual literature-based reviews, one species- and one system-based, to be presented in class, participation in research projects, and written submissions of their research. Lab fee covers costs of field trips, including boat and field station time, and conference costs. A $200 nonrefundable deposit is required by June 1.  Offered every other year.

Level:  Intermediate.  Prerequisite: Biology I, II and a writing-focused class or permission of instructor.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $500.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES361Environmental Chemistry: Water

Billions of years ago, ancient water molecules traversed a Goldilocks-like walk through our slowly condensing solar system, looking for a home. Mercury and Venus were much too hot. Mars and the outer planets were much too cold. Earth seemed 'just right.' With conditions capable of sustaining all of water's phases, Earth became the 'water planet.' The solid surface of the earth became sculpted by water. The composition and temperature of the earth's atmosphere became largely determined by its water. All life (that we know) came to be based upon water. It is within the water of its cells that the machinery of life grinds away and it is into water that life disposes of what it finds un-useful. Many life-forms live their entire existence bathed in water as we are bathed in air, and even we who live surrounded by air require more water every day than any other foodstuff. As such, it is appropriate to look at how our water is doing these days. Students will be evaluated on their participation in class discussion of the readings, problem sets, and participation in field studies of focused on monitoring and modeling the conditions of local waters. Level: Intermediate. Lab fee: $50. *ES*

ES373Marine Mammals and Sound

This advanced seminar class examines the role of sound in the biology of marine mammals. We start with an examination of the behavior of sound underwater, covering concepts that include sound production, propagation and reception, SONAR equations, and noise. We continue with a review of how marine mammals, with a specific focus on cetaceans, use sound to communicate, sense and orient within their environment. We conclude with a bioacoustic examination of specific management problems in marine mammal science. Topics covered in this final part will include, but will not be limited to: marine mammal fishery interactions, shipstrikes, effects of industrial noise, whale song and dialects, baleen whale orientation, and marine mammal strandings. Classes will be run in seminar style, reading intensive, with students responsible for leading discussions and topics. Evaluation is by class participation, two term papers and (possibly) a class project. Although no lab period is set for this class, students are expected to invest some time outside of class for the purpose of possible class projects. Level: Advanced. Class limit: 5-10 students. Lab fee $100. *ES*

ES383Fisheries and Their Management

Humans have exploited the biotic resources of the ocean for thousands of years. Although early harvesting probably had minimal ecological and population impact, increased exploitation due to increasing market demand and technological advances have placed significant stress on many of the world's "fisheries". Those exploited species that have thus far avoided becoming commercially or biologically extinct, are, in many cases, threatened by collapse due to over-fishing. This course examines the exploitation of biotic resources in the oceans, including invertebrates, fish, and marine mammal populations. Importantly, it also examines the fishing techniques, fisheries technology and management of fisheries, and critiques and reviews the development of the mathematical modeling on which management is based. The class will be offered in seminar style, with students involved in the discussion and critique of readings, and researching and presenting various case histories. Students will be evaluated on the basis of participation and quality of presentations and term projects. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 12. Prerequisite: Signature of the instructor, by demonstration of competence in QR and ES disciplines. Course fee: $60. *ES*

ES395Physics III: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

This course is designed to introduce students to the two central ideas of quantum mechanics. First, the outcomes of experiments cannot be predicted exactly; one can only predict the probability of various outcomes. And second, these probabilities do not behave like normal probabilities; the probabilities interfere with each other in a manner that has no counterpart in our everyday experience with probabilities. We will develop these ideas by taking a close look at a prototypical quantum system: "spin-1/2" particles. We will carefully discuss the experimental evidence for quantum mechanics, and we will also look at some of the well-known conundrums of quantum mechanics, such as the two-slit experiment and the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox. Along the way, students will also be introduced to basic probability theory. We will conclude by looking at some of the applications and implications of quantum mechanics, such as: the Bohr atom, quantum computation, quantum cryptography, and the photoelectric effect. Quantum mechanics is an exciting, challenging topic which has made an impact in many different fields. As such, this course is designed to appeal to a wide range of students --- both those whose interests lie outside of science as well as those who are concentrating in the sciences or mathematics. Students who successfully complete this course will have gained a solid understanding of the central ideas of quantum mechanics. This understanding should be mathematical and quantitative as well as conceptual. Students will also gain some experience with scientific reasoning and quantitative problem solving. Evaluation will be based on class participation, weekly problem sets, and a final presentation or paper. Some computer work may be required, but no computer experience is necessary. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: Familiarity with algebra and trigonometry and high school chemistry or physics. Physics I and II are not prer


Why do we get shorter and wrinklier with age?  Were dinosaurs warm-blooded?  How do grasshoppers hop?  These diverse questions are all within the realm of biomechanics.  A knowledge of biomechanics, or the ways in which plants and animals cope with the laws of physics, can promote an understanding of organisms at all levels of organization, from molecules to ecosystems.  In this course we explore several areas of physical science, including mechanical engineering, materials science, and fluid dynamics, as a means of gaining insight into the biological world.  Students attend two lecture sessions per week and one three-hour lab session for discussions of current research in biomechanics, review of homework assignments, and laboratory observations or demonstrations.  Evaluations are based on participation in discussions, weekly problem sets, two term papers, and a final exam.  

Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites:  One college-level course in Biology and one college-level course in Math or Physics or signature of instructor.  
Class limit: 16.  Offered every other year.  Lab fee: $15.  Meets the following degree requirements: QR ES

ES4032Marine Ecology

This course is intended for students who have some familiarity with the natural history and ecology of local marine organisms and are eager to take their understanding to the next level in the context of an intensive summer course.  The class will meet all day, every day for 15 days, and will comprise several parts, including lecture and discussion of papers from the primary literature, field trips to explore diversity of local habitats, and several research projects.  We will work together on two class projects.  One will involve the reproductive biology of mummichogs, a small, estuarine fish that is locally abundant.  Although not on the scale of wild salmon runs, mummichog spawning is a frenzied spectacle of nature involving dozens of fish simultaneously releasing gametes in the shallows at high tide.  Students will collect data on spawning behavior and patterns of survivorship among eggs laid at intertidal sites.  The other class project will involve population biology of three species of intertidal snails and how parameters such as species abundance and diversity, size-frequency distribution, and population density vary among populations on various small coastal islands.  We will access these islands for censusing via sea kayak, and students interested in learning more about safety and navigation in sea kayaks will have that opportunity.  We may include an overnight trip if weather and timing permit.  Finally, students will also design their own independent projects, and they will meet individually with instructors to discuss hypothesis generation, experimental design, data collection and analysis, and final communication of results.  The final day of class will involve a presentation of individual projects.  Students will be evaluated on participation on the class projects and other activities, short written assignments, and the quality of the final project.  

Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Marine Biology, Invertebrate Zoology or an intermediate-level course in ecology or behavior and permission of instructor. Class limit: 16.  Lab fee: $80 Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES412Ecology of the Winter Coastline

This is a course studying marine botany, marine algae and monitoring the "spring" time blooms of phytoplankton in Frenchman Bay. The class will cover topics such as the biology, taxonomy and ecology of marine algae. A major component of this course will be focusing on the primary productivity of marine ecosystems. Students will experience these exquisite and ephemeral phenomena through extensive lab work identifying and monitoring individual species of marine algae and phytoplankton. We will explore the flora and fauna of the islands, bays and coastal waters surrounding Mount Desert Island by looking at those organisms which make up wintertime communities. Peripheral topics will include the seasonal movement of different species of seabirds and marine mammals; discussing those species that are conspicuous by their absence, those which have stoically remained behind and those species that are entirely winter visitors. Many consider January and February as deep winter, yet this is the time when the first signs of spring appear. Students are expected to keep a field/lab notebook and to write several term papers. Students should anticipate several field trips which might test their winter hardiness. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Intermediate biology/ecology course or signature of instructor. Class limit: 14. Lab fee: $85. *ES*

ES472Physics II: Introduction to Circuits

This course will provide students with a broad introduction to circuits. Students with little or no previous knowledge in electronics will learn the fundamentals of circuits in both the analog and digital realm. The course will cover topics such as current, voltage, power, resistors, capacitors and digital logic circuits, This is a hands-on course focusing more on the "how to" than the "why". By the end of the course students should be able to independently develop, implement, test and document basic circuits. Evaluation will be based on problem sets, participation in lab and class, and a final project or exam. This course makes extensive use of algebra. A college level math, physics, or chemistry class is recommended but not required. Level: Introductory. Prerequisite: High School Algebra. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $50. *ES* *QR*

ES478Evolutionary Processes in Plants

What is a species? What is the process by which species originate? Does the evolutionary process in plants differ from that of animals? What are the evolutionary consequences of being a plant? The course will address aspects of plant evolution including variation, natural selection, breeding systems, species and speciation, adaptive radiation, co-evolution, and systematics. Classic case studies of plant evolution will be used to examine the nature of the evolutionary process and introduce current hypotheses of plant evolution. The course is directed at students interested in evolutionary biology, plant ecology, and systematics. Evaluations are based on class participation, two oral presentations and term paper. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Lab fee: $25. Prerequisites: Advanced course in Biology, Signature of the instructor. Class Limit: 8. *ES*

ES5010Biochemistry I

This course's goal is to develop the student's ability to understand the biochemical literature and to relate the structures of biological chemicals to their properties and by surveying the aims and designs of the most important, basic metabolic processes.  Emphasis is on features common to all pathways (enzyme catalysis and regulation) and purposes unique to each (energy extraction, generation of biosynthesis precursors, etc.)  Most of the course looks at processes that most organisms have in common; some attention is paid to how these processes have been adapted to meet the demands of unique environments.  This course should be especially useful to students with interests in medicine, nutrition, physiology, agriculture, or toxicology.  The class meets for three hours of lecture/discussion each week.  Evaluations are based on a midterm exam and a final paper.  Offered every other year.

Level:  Advanced.  Prerequisites: At least one term of organic chemistry. Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES5014Organic Chemistry II

This class will continue to discuss the occurrence and behavior of additional functional groups not covered in Organic Chemistry I. Meeting twice a week, we will work our way through the remainder of the fall text and then apply the material by reading articles from the current literature of environmental organic chemistry. Assessment will be based on keeping up with the reading, class participation, and three take-home problem sets.

Level: Advanced.  Prerequisite:  Organic Chemistry I.  Offered every other year.  Lab fee: $50. Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES522Tutorial: Advanced Marine Resource Policy Seminar

This advanced tutorial brings together professors, students, and individuals from outside the college to discuss current issues in marine resource policy. Working with individuals from the Penobscot Bay Resource Center as well as others with knowledge of marine resource policy, the goal of this seminar is to examine one specific topic each year of the seminar and produce a policy white paper summarizing the findings and conclusions of the group that will be made publicly available. The initial goal is to have 2-4 professors, 1-5 students, and 2-4 individuals from outside the institution research current information on a topic, potentially conduct their own research, and apply meta-analyses or other appropriate analytical tools to the collected data and write a summary document that can help inform the management of marine resources. The group will typically meet twice per week, with additional meetings of subgroups throughout the term. Because the topic of the seminar changes between years, students may take this seminar for multiple years for credit. Pre-requisites: Background in environmental policy and biology. Permission required. Class limit: 5


Hydrology is the science that studies the movement, distribution and quality of water resources throughout the Earth. Water is an essential component to life on Earth. Changes to our Earth System affect the distribution and quality of water resources and can have profound effects on adjacent and embedded systems. In this class we will look at how freshwater systems function and how perturbations result in changes. Field studies and laboratory analyses will help students develop a complete understanding of the physical and chemical processes that influence freshwater resources, with a particular emphasis on activities on and near Mount Desert Island. Field trips will include monitoring and measuring water quantity and quality at several locations around MDI in conjunction with United States Geological Survey: Water Division data. In addition we will visit public utilities such as water treatment and wastewater treatment facilities on the island. These field studies and field trips will help link natural processes and human activities that place demands on water resources. This course combines hands-on experiential learning and group participation with independent work in the primary literature. Students will have opportunities to develop and design term projects to investigate specific areas of interest. Students will be evaluated on their participation in class discussion of the readings, problem sets, field studies and projects. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: A college-level course in chemistry or geology is helpful but not required. Lab Fee $50. *ES*

HS2049Marvelous Terrible Place: Human Ecology of Newfoundland

Where is the largest population of humpback whales in the world, the largest caribou herd in North America, the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, and Paleozoic water bottled for consumption? The remote Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador presents a stunning landscape, an astoundingly rich ecological setting, and a tragic history of poverty amidst an incredible natural resource, the northern cod fishery, that was ultimately destroyed. The province has been alternately invaded or occupied by different groups of Native Americans along with Norseman, Basques, French, British, and the U.S. military, because of its strategic location and rich fishing and hunting grounds. One of the first and one of the last British colonies, this richest of fisheries produced a very class based society, composed of a wealthy few urban merchants and an highly exploited population of fishing families often living on the edge of survival. But within the past 50 years, Newfoundland society has been forced to evolve. The provincial government looks towards oil and mineral exploitation to turn around the economy, while ex-fishermen consider eco- and cultural tourism with growing ambivalence. This then is our setting, and background, for an intense examination of the human ecology of this province; the relationship between humans and their environment, sometimes successful, sometimes otherwise, the struggle between the tenuous grasp of civilization and this marvelous, terrible place. To do this we will discuss various readings, examine case studies and review the natural and human history of this unique province.  Our learning will culminate with a two-week trip to Newfoundland to examine its issues firsthand.  Evaluation will be based on class and field trip participation, responses to reading questions, a field journal, and a final project.

Level:  Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites:  Signature of Instructor.  Lab fee:  $850.  Class limit 15  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS3026Whitewater/Whitepaper: River Conservation and Recreation

Loren Eisely once remarked, "If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." Eisely's observation is an underlying premise of this course - that there is something very special about moving water. This course is taught in a seminar format in which students will read and discuss ecological, historical, sociological, political and legal aspects of river conservation and watershed protection. Special emphasis is placed on understanding the policy issues surrounding dams, river protection, and watershed planning. In conjunction with readings and class discussions, students will use a term-long study of a local stream to learn about the threats facing rivers in the United States and the legal and policy mechanisms for addressing these threats. In addition, the class will take an extended field trip to western Massachusetts to gain first-hand knowledge of the tremendous impact river manipulation can have on a social and ecological landscape. We will spend time looking at historically industrialized and now nationally protected rivers in the region. Through weekly excursions on Maine rivers, students will also develop skills to enable them to paddle a tandem canoe in intermediate whitewater. Evaluation will be based on problem sets, role-playing exercises, contribution to the class, short essays, and paddling skills. Weekly excursions to area rivers entail special scheduling constraints as we will be in the field all day on Fridays.

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisite: Signature of instructor.  Class limit: 11.  Lab fee: $100.

HS3036Oceans & Fishes: Readings in Environmental History

This course will explore the rapidly expanding field of marine environmental history and historical studies that focus on fish and fisheries.  Recent methodological and conceptual work as well as growing interest in the history of these topics driven by conservation and policy issues has made this an important and innovative field.  Using the work of a variety of scholars from different fields the class will explore how historical accounts can be constructed with an emphasis on the types of available sources, the use of evidence, and how each author builds their argument.  We will explicitly compare the methods, use of evidence and other aspects of different disciplinary approaches to the topic to highlight the strengths and limitations of each approach.  This dimension of the class is particularly interesting because of the dynamic and interdisciplinary nature of scholarship right now that brings a wide range of research into dialogue. Students will learn about the history of oceans and fishes by looking at how historians and other scholars frame their works and make their arguments.  Students will be evaluated on their preparation for discussion, mastery of the material, short written assignments, and a final project made up of a presentation and essay.  This course is appropriate for students with interest in history, community-based research, marine studies, and environmental policy.  Students who are just curious and interested in lots of things are also most welcome.

Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 15  Lab Fee $75.00 Meets the following degree requirements: HS HY

HS3039Communicating Science

This course is designed for science students developing their research skills working on research projects for a principal investigator; specifically this course will improve the students' writing ability and introduce them to writing for the scientific community.  The course involves not only learning to write an abstract and literature review but also understanding the protocols for writing a scientific paper based on lab or field data.  In addition, students will prepare a power point presentation on their research to present at a meeting or conference such as the Maine Biological Science Symposium or the annual INBRE meeting.  In addition to working with the instructor, students will work on the content of their writing with the principal investigator. Offered every other year.

Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Signature of instructor.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee: $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: W

HS4026Environmental Law and Policy

This course provides an overview of environmental law and the role of law in shaping environmental policy.  We examine, as background, the nature and scope of environmental, energy, and resource problems and evaluate the various legal mechanisms available to address those problems.  The course attempts to have students critically analyze the role of law in setting and implementing environmental policy.  We explore traditional common law remedies, procedural statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act, intricate regulatory schemes, and market-based strategies that have been adopted to control pollution and protect natural resources.  Students are exposed to a wide range of environmental law problems in order to appreciate both the advantages and limitations of law in this context.  Special attention is given to policy debates currently underway and the use of the legal process to foster the development of a sustainable society in the United States.  Students are required to complete four problem sets in which they apply legal principles to a given fact scenario.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites:  Introduction to the Legal Process or Philosophy of the Constitution strongly recommended.  Offered at least every other year.  Class limit: 20.  Lab fee $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS4029Water Worlds: Culture and Fluidity

This advanced/ intermediate socio-cultural theory course examines human ecological relationships in a variety of watery spaces. In the humanities and social sciences, oceans, seas, rivers, and watersheds have recently emerged as particularly productive units of socio-cultural analysis. In contrast to the boundedness that can pervade area studies, these "water worlds" convey both the fluidity of cultural connections and the richness and detail of deep historical and ethnographic research. Moreover, water worlds help us consider people in their engagements with ecosystems and geographies. This course centers on a variety of watery regions, including the Mediterranean, the Pacific, river life in the Amazon, The Caribbean, the Black Sea, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and human/ microbial relationships under the ocean. Topics addressed will include: the constructing of regions, critical approaches to geography, alternatives to globalization theories, and postcolonial theory. Intended for students who want to hone their chops in social-cultural analysis and/or those interested in the topic itself. All enrolled students MUST be prepared to read and discuss dense, complex material in cultural studies and social theory and should have background in learning to think and write analytically. Students will be evaluated on participation in class discussion and on outside written assignments.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor. Lab fee: none. Class limit: 15 Meets the following degree requirements: HS

HS782Tutorial: Advanced Seminar in Human Ecology

The purpose of this tutorial is to review the many uses of the term ?human ecology?. It begins with an historical review of the academic and intellectual origins of human ecology. From these foundations, we proceed through the development of more interdisciplinary approaches to human ecology --- working with primary source materials (e.g., books, articles, position papers, academic program descriptions and related documents). We will further explore the activities of various regional, national and international associations and the aims of leading educational institutions. Assignments and discussions will revolve around several current problems that face human ecology. In particular, we will focus on: various theoretical controversies within and between biological and human ecology; issues and proposed methods of inter-disciplinary problem-solving, planning and application; and the growth of professional opportunities in human ecology worldwide. Evaluations will be based on careful reading and review of assigned materials, participation in discussions, individual papers and a collaborative group project. Level: Advanced; Permission of instructor required; Class limit: 3 Permission of instructor required.

MD042Humans in Place: Natural/Cultural History of Maine's Islands

This intensive field-based course is an interdisciplinary examination of the changing relationship between humans and landscape in a region where people have lived continuously for several thousand years: the eastern Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy. The Gulf of Maine?s vast archipelago of islands is the setting for a wide range of both human and non-human communities. This is one of the richest areas of biological productivity in eastern North America and its fisheries have supported human cultures since pre-Columbian times. Sitting on the intersection between cold northern currents and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the region provides feeding and breeding grounds for a broad range of species from both arctic and tropical regions. For example, the Gulf provides breeding habitat for more than half of all seabirds nesting in eastern North America, and is also a critical feeding area for the endangered Right Whale and many other marine mammals. In this course we will study historical and current relationships among human cultures, fisheries, seabirds, and marine mammals, focusing on the feedbacks that change or preserve human cultures and economies. These case studies will serve as a model for understanding other land/seascapes, including the home regions of participants. The class will be team-taught by faculty from three colleges within the EcoLeague, and supported by several guest speakers. Two students from each EcoLeague institution will be selected to participate. The bulk of the course will be based on three sites: the College of the Atlantic?s two field stations on Great Duck Island and Mt. Desert Rock, and Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Course begins August 18th, ends on September 8th in Bar Harbor, ME. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Ecology and/or Natural History, and at least one other course in interdisciplinary environmental studies/human ecology, and permission of EcoLeague faculty panel through written application p

MD4010Marine Policy

According to the Chair of the Pew Oceans Commission, "America's oceans are in a state of crisis. Pollution, unplanned coastal development, and the loss of fisheries, habitat, and wildlife threaten the health of the oceans and the tens of thousands of jobs that form the backbone of coastal communities." This course will provide a general understanding of both marine resources and current regional, national, and international policy regarding these resources.  Because oceans and the life they support transcend national and state boundaries, the course will explore international, national, and local oceanpolicy-making frameworks, including specific legislation addressing fisheries, coastal development, species protection, pollution, and resource extraction.  We will examine some of the controversies that exist in marine environments today using historical case studies of ocean management policy.  These case studies include management of Atlantic salmon, tuna-dolphin interactions, off-shore oil drilling, and New England fisheries.  Because of the interdisciplinary nature of these problems, it is necessary to understand how scientists and policy makers think about the same issues, how they attempt to solve problems, and how these two views can be brought together successfully. Assessment will include several question sets, a final small group paper and presentation that investigates a current marine policy issue, and class participation.

Level:  Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites: Background in the biological sciences and environmental policy and permission of Instructors.  Course fee $20.

Marine Studies Faculty

  • John G.T. Anderson
    B.A. University of California, Berkeley
    M.A. Ecology and Systematic Biology, San Francisco State University
    Ph.D. Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island
    » Course areas: anatomy and physiology, animal behavior, conservation biology, ecology, zoology
  • Helen Hess
    B.S. University of California, Los Angeles
    Ph.D. Zoology, University of Washington
    » Course areas: biomechanics, history of life, invertebrate zoology
  • Chris Petersen
    B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara
    Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona
    » Course areas: biology, evolution, ichthyology, marine ecology, marine policy, statistics
  • Sean Todd
    B.S. University College of North Wales (UK)
    M.S. Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland
    Ph.D. Biopsychology, Memorial University
    » Course areas: biology, marine mammals, oceanography, sensory ecology, statistics