Bio 3955: Field Ecology, Nova Scotia

“Big picture”

Course centers on a 2-week field trip to Nova Scotia during Villanova’s summer session. Plan for 2018: trip in July (dates to be determined in consultation with interested students, but probably departing ~ 5 to 8 July and returning ~ 20 to 24 July). The course emphasizes familiarity with a variety of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems; field identification of organisms; and methods for collection and analysis of field data to test ecological hypotheses.

Preparation for the trip through online work (readings, discussion, writing) in June. The primary “textbook” is a free online compendium, The Natural History of Nova Scotia.

Students would need to be present “in person” only during the field trip itself.

Follow-up after the trip involves online work (discussion, writing).

Course counts as regular laboratory course in Biology (4 credits). Fulfills Population Biology area requirement for Villanova BIO majors. Fulfills “research” requirement in Villanova CLAS Core Curriculum.

Bio 3955 Syllabus from summer 2016 (2018 syllabus will be very similar)


Students pay Villanova summer sessions tuition as well as an additional fee (≤ $900) for travel and food expenses during the field trip.

Base of operations for the field trip is Curry family property in southwestern Nova Scotia (Yarmouth County). Students will stay in cottages and, at times, in tents (group camping equipment provided by Villanova). The trip will include several days on Bon Portage Island, site of a biological station operated by Acadia University.

Travel to Nova Scotia is by Villanova van. Tentative plan is to take auto ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at the start of the field trip, and then return at the end of the trip via the Annapolis Valley and Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, and then New Brunswick.