The Human Footprint on Coastal Ecosystems

Undergraduate Seminar Course

Course Description:

Worldwide, people are intrinsically connected to the coast.  Relying on the ocean for numerous services including transportation, recreation, and food, humans have inevitably altered these natural ecosystems.  This seminar course will examine a range of human-induced stressors on estuarine and coastal ecosystems while focusing on the varying responses of these systems to perturbations.  Human disturbances including nutrient pollution, species introductions, sea level rise, resource management issues, and shoreline development will be reviewed and discussed.

Course Goals:

  • After taking this course students will be able to recognize the vulnerability of estuarine and coastal ecosystems to anthropogenic pressures and understand that an ecosystem’s response to human disturbances are often not linear, straightforward, or predictable.
  • Students will explore a suite of human stressors that threaten coastal systems and discuss current management approaches for adaptation
  • Students will be able to critically read a scientific paper and engage in a discussion about its content and broader implications.