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Course Description

The teaching modules are designed to provide the students with fundamental limnological theory, and a sound practical knowledge of limnological techniques and protocols, as carried out on large research vessels. At the end of the course, students will be able to design a sampling strategy to examine water quality (biotic and abiotic factors) along a transect using appropriate techniques with awareness of logistical constraints to sample collection and analysis.

Students will be introduced to advanced techniques that are currently at the forefront in limnological investigations. Molecular techniques such as luminescent cyanobacterial and bacterial bioreporters, and fluorescent enzymatic assays are well suited to application in onboard analytical labs since they provide an analytical measure within a short time frame (3 hours). Traditional methods of evaluating primary and secondary productivity will also be learned.

The ornithology module is designed to teach basic ecological principles using aquatic birds as the medium. The choice of birds is very appropriate since: a) aquatic birds are sentinel organisms for detecting the manifestation of contaminants in the aquatic food web, b) die-off of birds due to avian botulism is an emerging issue in the Great Lakes, and c) birds are sensitive to land-use changes at the land-water interface.

Achievement of the course objectives will be evaluated by brief written tests at each day's end. Each student following the end of the practicum will hand in a final report. The report will contain a summary of the investigations conducted onboard the ship in addition to a research plan to study a hypothetical situation — students will evaluated on their ability to synthesize the data obtained and produce a rational plan for studying the hypothetical situation.