College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Environmental Science & Technology

ENST499K: Algae of the Chesapeake (3)

An ecological and taxonomic survey of algal groups found in the estuarine portion of the Chesapeake Bay. This is a field-oriented course with all day trips to different locations on the bay for collecting algae and learning about algal habitats. Lab/lecture sessions follow field trips for examination and discussion of the collections made during the trips.  Emphasis is on the macroalgal flora of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed but all algal life forms will be covered in the course. Prerequisites: BIOL 106 or equivalent

Course Objectives 

1) collect macroalgae in intertidal and other aquatic habitats along the salinity gradient of the Chesapeake Bay from the mouth of the bay in Virginia to the lower Susquehanna River;

2) learn how to identify macroalgae;

3) learn an outline of algal taxonomy;

4) learn basic ecology and evolutionary relationships of algae;

5) discuss applied uses of algae such as in aquaculture , water quality management and biofuel production.

Recommended Dress

This is a field course dealing with aquatic organisms so students should be prepared to get wet. Old pants and tennis shoes that can get wet are recommended along with a change in clothes for after collection trips.  Hip or knee boots will also work but they will be hot and bulky during the summer months. A hat and sun screen are also recommended. Some snorkeling may also be possible during certain field trips to the bay, though this activity will be optional.

Grading: Grades will be based on a journal of course activities (algal taxa in collections, taxonomic records, collecting locations, salinity data, lecture notes, maps, etc.) and a final practical exam. The journal will be due on Friday, July10, and it will count for 50% of the course grade. The practical exam will count for 50% of the course grade and it will be given on the final exam date. It will consist of a set of objective questions and identifications of unknown algal taxa.

Textbook: no text will be required but taxonomic keys will be provided for use during the course.


Week 1 (6/3-4) local field trip to collect algae on UMCP campus, use of microscopes, introduction to taxonomic keys and to the taxonomy of algae

Week 2 (6/10-11) field trip to Susquehanna River and the upper bay, analysis of collections

Week 3 (6/17-18) field trip to mid-bay on the Western Shore from Annapolis to Point Lookout, analysis of collections

Week 4 (6/24-25) visit the Smithsonian Institution for demonstrations of algal taxonomy and systematics, pre-test on identification of unknowns

Week 5 (7/1-2) field trip to mid-bay on the Eastern Shore from Rock Hall to Cambridge, analysis of collections

Week 6 (7/8-9) field trip to the lower bay and to the mouth of the bay in Virginia, analysis of collections

Final Practical Exam

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2019. Web Accessibility