Course Objectives and Grading

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Objectives: This course is a hands-on introduction to the marine invertebrates inhabiting the waters of Cape Cod. The goal is to provide an overview of faunal diversity, functional morphology, and ecology in our local marine environment.

Designed for:
- Students working in the local environment who want to be familiar with local species and ecology,
- Students with no previous invertebrate zoology course,
- Students who would like a refresher invertebrate zoology course.

Structure/content: The course uses a combination of lecture, discussion, laboratory, and field studies. The overall structure is based on higher taxonomic groups (i.e., “marching through the phyla”), using the latest version of Jan Pechenik’s textbook (6th edition, 2010) and the Tree of Life international collaborative project (

Expected student work: Students will examine specimens and discuss papers orally in class, conduct an independent field or laboratory research project, and participate in a lab practical.

30% Independent research project.  The project may be any original work involving a field or laboratory study of local inverebrate fauna (laboratory projects limited to whole organism studies such as behavior, feeding ecology, or physiology).  We prefer that students work together in pairs for these projects.  The oral presentation may include hands-on activities in addition to the typical AGU-type presentation format.  The written report will be in typical (but abbreviated) manuscript format: abstract, intro, methods, results, discussion, and references.  
20% Oral presentation of a paper from the published literature that describes some aspect of the ecology or evolution of a local invertebrate species.  Here is an example: Cohen, A.L. et al. 2002. The effect of algal symbionts on the accuracy of Sr/Ca paleotemperatures from coral. Science 296: 331-333.  This ~15-min presentation will be somewhat informal (show-and-tell), involving maybe a figure or two from the manuscript.
20% Field trip participation.  During each of the 3 field trips, one or a pair of students will act as "scribe," recording notes and a list of organisms/samples collected.  These notes and associated photos will be submitted for posting to a webpage for each field trip. 
15% Class participation.  During each lab session, each student will "visit" 2 stations to examine, draw, and describe specimens in a dedicated notebook.
15% End-of-semester, general lab practical for identification of local organisms, including specific morphological characters, and description of functional role in ecosystem.

Last offered in 2005: course webpage -