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Courses that Change Your Life: Aquatic Biology (Biol 322)

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Dec 02, 2014

Water is a mysterious world, yet foundational to all life and every biological community. For many people, even scientists and students of biology, the lakes, streams, and bogs of northern Michigan seem, on first inspection, difficult to investigate. Au Sable’s course in Aquatic Biology opens the door to that investigation, exploring these fascinating environments that compose Michigan’s hydrosphere. Increasingly recognized in environmental law, policy and regulation (as well as science) for their importance, aquatic systems offer fruitful fields of interesting study and sustainable employment for those who learn how to understand, measure and monitor their dynamic states. Au Sable’s Aquatic Biology offers opportunity to pursue that interest and gain that expertise in a landscape endowed with diverse aquatic features. Aquatic Biology provides experience in learning identification and systematics of freshwater fishes and invertebrates within an integrated ecological approach examining patterns of energy flow, nutrient cycling and trophic dynamics in aquatic systems. It also offers an introduction to skills needed in the growing field of environmental inventory and assessment, an area in which aquatic environments receive disproportionate attention. 

Aquatic Biology is perfectly situated in northern Michigan’s “headwater country,” where national and state scenic rivers like the Jordan, the Manistee, and the Au Sable begin. Northern Michigan is also an area with a high density of lakes, bogs and springs, surrounded by the three Great Lakes of Michigan, Huron, and Superior. Providing field and laboratory settings for directly investigating aquatic plants and animals, their adaptations and the ecological systems in which they function, Aquatic Biology also shows students current best practices for protecting aquatic environments and the biblical principles of creation care that should guide them. As one recent student observed, “The stream study was enjoyable. It gave us hands on learning of techniques used [by industry professionals].”

Dan Ippolito, Professor of Biology at Anderson University (Anderson, Indiana), provides his students with the fruits of decades of his teaching experience investigating aquatic plants and animals, their adaptations, and the ecological systems in which they function. Dan also employs his expertise to show students current best practices for protecting aquatic environments, as well as the biblical principles of creation care that should guide them.

Students in Aquatic Biology will acquire skills in aquatic microbial sampling techniques, chemical analysis of water, identification of freshwater vertebrate and invertebrate animals and their systematics, biological sampling techniques for aquatic systems, and how to practice in aquatic ecosystem habitat assessment. But beyond all these, they will gain a rich, one-of-a-kind experience in a whole new world of biological study.