G341/G700 Natural History of Coral Reefs

Spring semester, 2017

Section 11762, 3 credit hours



Bring all class project materials to lecture each week for weekly working sessions.
Bring your laptops to class.
Jan 10-12Introduction and overview of course content and semester’s activities.
Jan 17-19 Geologic approaches to analyzing ancient reef life and carbonate environments.
Jan 24-26Geologic history of coral reefs – a trip across the globe and through hundreds of millions of years of Earth’s history.
Jan. 31-Feb.2Modern reef composition, ecology, structure, stability, and global distribution.
Feb. 7-9 Global warming takes a toll on coral reefs across the globe: scientific evidence and interpretations.
Feb. 14-16 Mid-term examination on Tuesday February 17. Patterns of coral origins, dispersal routes, diversity, and extinction.
Feb. 21-23 Population dynamics, reef connectivity and coral resilience.
Feb. 28-Mar. 2 Research methods and equipment: Guest speakers.
Mar. 7-9Reefs and society: socio-economic impacts of reefs inclusive of fisheries, tourism, natural products and natural protection. Coral ID Quiz #1 on Thursday
Mar. 14-16 Spring Break. Enjoy your break.
Mar. 21-23 Fossil coral, associated reef biota and reef sample analyses for reef ecology and paleoecology.
Mar. 28-30Coral diseases and reef ecosystem stresses
Apr. 4-6 Managing coral reefs – fisheries, tourism, pollution, marine protected areas, conservation.
Apr. 11-13Reef health and reef resilience – a comprehensive analysis. Coral ID Quiz #2 on Thursday
Apr. 18-20Geologic record of reef ecosystems revisited - petroleum resources.
Apr. 25-27 Future trajectory for coral reefs. Coral ID Quiz #3 on Tuesday. Final assignment due today. Print and submit for start of class on April 27.
  IU Policy for Free Week: The week prior to the exam period shall be free of major or final exams, except for practical tests at the end of lab periods. Paper projects may be due only if assigned well in advance.
May 4 Thursday: Final Comprehensive Exam 5:00-7:00pm GY 522, same lecture room as always.


By the end of this course on the Natural History of Coral Reefs, you should be able to:

  • Provide an understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological phenomena affecting reef ecosystems, and discuss how you would develop a systematic investigation of these phenomena.
  • Show the value of scientific inquiry and hypothesis testing.
  • Review the state of the science related to hypotheses concerning reef ecosystems, and the evidence supporting and refuting these hypotheses.
  • Establish the role and approaches of mathematics for reef ecosystem studies.

grading policy, major assignments, exam dates

  1. 15%: 3 coral identification quizzes. Quiz dates are in the syllabus.
  2. 40%: in-class exercises and homework assignments
  3. 15%: final assignment; 2 pages, 1” margins, 11 point type, DS, printed, due April 27 at start of class
  4. 10%: mid-term exam on February 16
  5. 20%: final comprehensive exam on May 4
  6. FINAL GRADE DISTRIBUTION: A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79; D-60-69; F=59 & lower; marks of + and − will be added to the letter grades as follows (− assigned to 0, 1, 2; + assigned to grades of 7, 8, or 9; e.g., 87%=B+, 61%=D− 74%=C). Class grades are not curved.