Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods

Course Dates

July 14, 2021 to July 28, 2021


One semester of college-level biology.

Course Description

Photo of Coastal Habitat Field Research methods students on the rock of Appledore island
photo of Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods drone (UAV)
photo of Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods students in the field

This two-week intensive field-based course is intended for students who wish to explore and gain proficiency in various research and assessment methods of terrestrial and aquatic plant communities of the Isles of Shoals and nearby coastal habitats of the Seacoast and Great Bay Estuary.

Topics covered will include quantitative surveys methods, GIS-based and aerial (UAV) mapping of plant communities, taxonomy and systematics of major vascular taxa, island biogeography, rare species ecology and conservation, and the management of invasive species. Through both field and classroom exercises, we will use a variety of sampling protocols to document the existing plant communities, contribute to ongoing plant community studies, investigate the floristic changes that the Isles of Shoals have experienced from past and to present, and use these data to predict trends into the future to help preserve their unique flora. Student will use skills developed in class to design and implement brief field research project in a related topic of their choice.

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Become familiar with the flora of Appledore Island and be able to distinguish native vs invasive species, rare species and harmful species;
  • Know how to conduct plant surveys and apply the appropriate methodology for their intended purpose;
  • Map and produce plant habitat maps;
  • Understand the factors that lead to habitat stability or floristic change over time on Appledore Island.

Internship opportunity: This course is recommended experience for SML's Aquatic Ecology Internship.

Learn more about this course in an article by the Environmental Monitor.

"We conducted hands-on fieldwork such as laying transects, identifying botanical percent coverages in quadrats, and using GPS units to collect and organize our data. The little time we spent indoors at Shoals was devoted to data analysis. When our on-island time ended we had collected data from more than 50 transects!" - Luke Violette (SML '15, UNH '18)


Dr. Gregg Moore:

Associate Research Professor, University of New Hampshire

Dr. Moore's primary research interests are focused upon coastal wetland restoration ecology, conservation, and land management within both temperate and tropical habitats. His work has had a particular emphasis on the anthropogenic impacts to wetlands and the management of invasive species within these habitats. Through short and long-term studies (both in New England and throughout the Caribbean), Dr. Moore studies the interplay between plant community patterns and sediment biogeochemistry seeking to gain an increased understanding of the causes of habitat loss, plant species invasions, and for developing innovative strategies for restoring native plant communities, including promoting rare species.

Watch a video about Dr. Moore's tropical habitat restoration work.

Photo of student in the field with Dr. Gregg Moore
In the field with Dr. Gregg Moore.
photo of Coastal Habitat Field Research methods students at a site on Appledore Island

Exploring the unique terrestrial habitats of Appledore Island.

photo of Coastal Habitat Field Research methods students hiking around Appledore Island

Hiking the island.




Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 2500 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 500 (4 Credits)