Oceans cover 60 percent of the Earth’s surface and play an important role in the function of terrestrial as well as marine systems. Healthy marine environments are needed to provide homes for endangered animals such as whales, sea turtles and manatees, but these ecosystems face threats from numerous human activities, such as the flow of pollutants from cities or farms into coastal waters.
In the Odum School of Ecology, faculty interests range from the conservation of sea turtles to the physiology of coral reef organisms to the impacts of non-native species on marine communities. Students in the Odum School have worked on projects studying human impacts on marine systems, such as the effects of climate change on diversity of coral reefs and how introduced species alter coastal habitats. Several tropical ecology projects explore marine and terrestrial connections, studying how tropical shrimp migrating between freshwater streams and saltwater estuaries affect ecosystem functions in both locations.
Students who pursue the Marine Ecology area of emphasis can tailor elective courses to their particular interests. For students interested in marine mammal conservation, their program of study would include.ECOL 3220Biology and Conservation of Marine Mammals, ECOL 3530 Conservation Biology and WILD(BIOL) 4050 Mammalogy. For students concerned about the decline of coral reefs, ECOL(BIOL)(MARS) 4330/4330L Tropical Marine Invertebrates, ECOL 4280/4280L Coral Reef Ecology and MARS 3450 Marine Biology would be major classes.
Many students sign up for research credits to work with faculty and graduate students. For students interested in public policy related to marine and coastal systems, a summer internship with a non-profit group or government agency would provide an excellent opportunity to explore career options.