Course description

Kelp forest ecosystems are among the most productive and species rich ecosystems on Earth. Because of their biodiversity, productivity and close proximity to shore, they support a variety of ecosystem services, including commercial and recreational fisheries, recreation, carbon sequestration and protection of shorelines. Since Darwin’s first encounter and exuberant description of kelp forests, ecologists have long been attracted to these ecosystems and research in kelp forests has generated insights of broad ecological importance.

Kelp Forest Ecology (Bioe 161/L) is an intensive 10-unit course that introduces students to kelp forest ecosystems, how science has contributed to our understanding of these ecosystems, and how to conduct ecological research underwater.  BIOE 161 and 161/L must be taken concurrently. The course integrates lectures and field labs to to provide students with both the knowledge and skills to conduct independent ecological field research. Students apply the scientific method (i.e. hypothesis testing) to explore biotic and abiotic processes that influence the distribution, abundance and interactions among kelp forest algae, invertebrates and fishes. Students conduct 2-3 class projects, including sampling, analysis and writing project reports in scientific format. The course culminates with a directed independent research project and a class presentation of that work. Lab practicum includes taxonomic identification of the common algae, invertebrates and fishes that inhabit central California kelp forests. 161 and 161L each meet  one full morning each week. Offered in alternate academic years.

Enrollment restricted to juniors and seniors and limited to 30 students. Prerequisite(s): by permission code from instructors only; BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, BIOE 20C and BIOE 75 (or the equivalent AAUS Scientific Diving certification). Note that several SCUBA courses and a physical exam are prerequisites to BIOE 75.  Visit to learn about the schedule of these courses and the physical exam options. BIOE 107, BIOE 108, BIOE 120/L, BIOE 122/L are recommended.