The Course:

Bahamas 2010 at the GRC

This four-week program, titled Comparative Communities,  is offered during alternate summers at the Gerace Research Center, San Salvador, The Bahamas.

In this program, students work one on one with faculty to experience the culture of the island of San Salvador while exploring terrestrial and marine environments on daily field trips to coral reef systems and other tropical marine communities.

On the way to High Cay

Several hours each day are spent snorkeling to learn how to identify reef fish, invertebrates and plants; certified SCUBA divers may also choose to dive as part of the program.

The class also visits a local cave, hikes in the interior of the island, swims to nearby cays, and surveys the intertidal organisms of the rocky shore. After exploring a variety of habitats, students  identify a question of interest, propose a hypothesis to answer the question, and design and conduct a field research project to test a hypothesis. Most students present their findings at scientific meetings during the following academic year.

The Faculty:

Richard Phillips, Kathy Reinsel, and Jim Welch

Dr. Kathy Reinsel is a marine invertebrate ecologist. She teaches courses in Marine Invertebrate Biology, Marine Ecology, and summer field programs in The Bahamas and at the Duke Marine Lab. The Marine Ecology and Invertebrates courses include field trips to the Duke Marine Laboratory, where students conduct ecological experiments and collect marine organisms from a variety of marine habitats. Her research interests include ecology of marine benthic communities, chemically mediated behavior, and the effects of human-produced environmental contaminants in aquatic systems. Current research includes foraging ecology, larval settlement behavior and patterns of larval abundance of fiddler crabs.

Dr. Reinsel received her B.A. in Biology from Hood College in 1986, and her Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University in 1995. She conducted her dissertation research on fiddler crab feeding ecology at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, in Beaufort, NC. After her Ph.D., she spent a year and a half as an instructor at the Duke Marine Lab, assisting with courses in Marine Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology, and advising several students in independent research projects. Dr. Reinsel was a National Research Council Associate at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s laboratory in Gulf Breeze, Florida, from 1997-1999. As an associate, she began investigations on the effects of environmental contaminants on the reproductive biology of grass shrimp. She joined the Wittenberg Biology faculty in 1999.

Dr. Jim Welch is a larval ecologist and ecological physiologist. He teaches Oceanography and Biology of Marine Invertebrates, in addition to summer programs in The Bahamas and at the Duke Marine Lab. His research interests include transport and settlement site behaviors of marine invertebrate larvae, interactions of aquatic animals with water flow, and the role of small-scale turbulence in marine ecosystems. Current research includes regulation of selective tidal stream transport by estuarine organisms, larval release behaviors of invertebrates in flow and molecular methods to identify patterns of larval settlement in fiddler crabs.

Dr.  Welch holds a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary, a M.S. in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University. He conducted his dissertation research at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, determining the role of turbulence in regulating the transport behavior of blue crab postlarvae, and the chemical cues that settling postlarvae use to select appropriate habitats. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, in Ft. Pierce, Florida, where he conducted research on deep-sea invertebrates. He has dived on hydrothermal vent sites at 2500m depth in the DSRV Alvin, and to depths of 2300 ft. in the Johnson Sea-Link submersibles at numerous sites in the Bahamas. He joined the Wittenberg Biology faculty in 1999.

Dr. Richard Phillips is a terrestrial ecologist interested in dispersal of organisms across landscapes.  He teaches evolution, ecology, and other courses that deal with the interactions of organisms with one another and their environment.  His research focuses on both individual costs and benefits of dispersal along with the impact of dispersal on various aspects of population dynamics.   Although still mapping out several projects, his current research involves small population dynamics across latitudinal gradients.

Dr. Phillips holds a B.A. in Biology with a co-major in Human and Natural Ecology, a M.S. in Wildlife Science from Texas Tech University as well as a Ph.D. in Wildlife Science with a Biology Minor from Texas Tech.   His graduate school research examined Rio Grande wild turkey movement dynamics at the genetic, organism, and population level.   He taught both Introductory Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Resources while pursuing his degrees at Texas Tech.  He has worked with rattlesnakes, wolves, and small mammals while employed in various capacities for both governmental and nongovernmental agencies.