Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Ocean Conservation: Pathways to Solutions

BIO 6N

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This course has space available. An application is not required for this seminar.

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In this seminar, we will explore the daunting and complex conservation challenges faced by oceans. These include overfishing and bycatch, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution (nutrients, oil, plastics), and climate change. In addition to understanding these problems and how they interact to threaten individual species populations, including endangered and protected species, we will also examine the impact of these changes on marine food webs and ecosystems. Examples include how to sustain fisheries but reduce bycatch of endangered species such as sea turtles. Or, how to reduce the impacts of nutrient loading on oxygen concentrations that impact marine species and resource dependent communities. We will examine the impacts of climate variability on the shifting distributions of resource and protected species in coastal oceans. Finally, we will examine emerging conservation issues that will require the best of our thinking to resolve.

We will learn how to design pathways to solutions by integrating social sciences and governance into our case studies. We will address both conventional (fisheries management, reducing the impacts of global shipping, marine protected areas) and emerging research and management approaches (marine spatial planning, dynamic ocean management, environmental DNA). Oceans are facing long-term challenges, such as overfishing and pollution that we know how to solve, and emerging challenges, such as climate change and ocean plastics, for which solutions are more elusive. Ultimately, to achieve long-term sustainability, solutions have to work for both people and the planet. These puzzles offer challenging complex systems problems that will require our best interdisciplinary thinking to solve. 

The course will be based on readings in scientific publications and discussions. We will take field trips to Monterey Bay for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and to observe whales and other marine mammals. Each student will prepare a paper on a conservation problem of their interest and describe pathways to solutions for that problem. This work will be written and presented orally to the class.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Larry Crowder

"I have been teaching marine ecology and conservation for over 20 years, and I am especially interested in solutions-oriented research and interdisciplinary problem solving. Concepts and research from natural sciences, social sciences, and governance must be integrated to solve the challenges of the 21st century. My recent research has focused on marine conservation, including bycatch, spatial ecological analysis, sustainable seafood, ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning, and governance."