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Course Description

Estuarine Geography utilizes an ecological approach to understanding physical and biological parameters to estuarine evolution.. Superimposed upon that spatial site and situation are social, human, cultural and political activities. Humans role in estuarine evolution is discussed at length.

The course begins with the geomorphology, geochemistry and Geography of estuaries. These abiotic factors are introduced as limits or catalysts to the biota, both plants and animals. Aspects of the environment are examined in terms of spatial and other geographic controls from global to local sites.

The discussions will center, in turn, upon the wetlands, salt marsh, mangrove swamp and coral islands. Benthic flora and fauna will be studied with specific relationship to abiotic constraints/controls. It is necessary to examine the role of both the aerobic and anaerobic decomposers in the estuarine detritus. Specific organisms, spatial locations and geoconstraints become critical in this process. Classroom field trips will be taken.

The role of the estuary as a nursery for nekton, birds, mammals, and reptiles will be examined especially in terms of geographic controls. Local anadromous/catadromous fish such as the salmon, shad, alewife, herring and eel will be examined spatially. The migration of lobsters seasonally will also be examined.

Course Objectives

  • Fully appreciate the importance of the estuary to all of its inhabitants/users.
  • Develop a geographical knowledge base that will assist in a better understanding of the biota of the estuary.
  • Realize the impacts of natural physical and chemical limits placed upon the biota.
  • Recognize that A + B = E. i.e. ( a functional ecosystem is comprised of both biotic and abiotic environment factors) and should be examined from that perspective.
  • Integrate the economic and biological health of the estuary to successful human habitation and use of the estuary.
  • Visualize from first hand experience the estuary of Boston Harbor.



Required Textbooks

Text: Mann, K.H., Ecology of Coastal Waters, 2nd, Blackwell Science, Malden, MA. 2000

Copyright ©2010 John F. Looney Jr., Ed.D