Bio 3955: Field Ecology, Nova Scotia

Course centers on a 2-week field trip to Nova Scotia during Villanova’s summer session. 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 will 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.


Students pay Villanova summer sessions tuition as well as an additional fee (≤ $600) 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. We take the CAT ferry between Maine and Yarmouth, NS, at both the start end of the trip. (In some years, we’ve used the ferry between Saint John, NB, and Digby, NS.) In Nova Scotia, we spend time mostly in Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties, but with a loop to Halifax, the Annapolis Valley, and Brier Island (highlight: whale watch excursion).