Global Field Studies: Bahamas

bahamas_7Research in Tropical Ecosystems: San Salvador,  Bahamas

Research in Tropical Ecosystems (NS/SS 362) is a Sterling College field study program in which students have the opportunity to diversify their northern Sterling experience with an intensive field course in a tropical region. This research oriented course builds on research skills learned at Sterling College and allows students to implement these skills in a tropical ecosystem. Partnering with local biological research stations and the local community, Sterling students have the opportunity to explore the impacts of land use on a tropical watershed and coral reef. Tropical Ecosystems and Culture (NS 381) is offered during the fall semester and is recommended but not required for participation in this field study program.


Course Objectives

  • To develop an understanding of the various components of a tropical watershed: biological, chemical, physical, and cultural.
  • To observe the effects of human use patterns on tropical natural communities, including the diverse coral reef ecosystem.
  • To understand what influences the process of decision-making by the government, conservation organizations, other NGOs with regard to regulating the use and conservation of natural and cultural resources
  • To compare all aspects of a tropical watershed with those of a temperate watershed


Course Content


  • Tide pools
  • Mangroves
  • Estuaries
  • Tidal zones
  • Inland fresh water and saline lakes
  • Coral reefs
  • Blue holes
  • Caves
  • Sea grass systems
  • Fossil Reefs and other cool geology


  • Tropical plants
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Invertebrates
  • Algae
  • Bacteria, Achaea and Viruses
  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Macro-invertebrates

Cultural History

  • Archeology and history
  • Plants and their use – ethno-botany and local food
  • Conservation and land management issues
  • Ethnic population
  • Economy of a small Island
  • Island Ecology