Coral Reef Ecology and Management

University of the South Pacific

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Coral Reef Ecology and Management

  • Host University

    University of the South Pacific

  • Location

    Suva, Fiji

  • Area of Study

    Biology, Ecology, Marine Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    (BI201 and BI202) or (BI2% and MS2%) or (MS2% and MS2%)

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Coral reefs are one of the richest and most productive ecosystems in the world. Coral reefs are under serious threat globally, not least in the Pacific region. This course examines the origins of coral reefs (reef types and formation); the biology of corals and other reef organisms (taxonomy, feeding, growth and reproduction); ecosystem structure and function (particularly coral/zooxanthellae, coral/algae, and predator/prey relationships); biodiversity values (significant and threatened species); human uses and values (especially fisheries); major issues (especially coral bleaching, terrestrial run-off, and effects of fishing); and environmental management and sustainable use of reef resources.
    Topic 1. General introduction to coral reefs and management issues (importance of coral reefs in USP region, human impacts, major issues, global reefs under threat). Topic 2. Coral reef formation, geomorphology (island and reef types, formation, reef development, particularly in the USP region). Topic 3. Biology of corals (polyps, zooxanthellae, nutrition, calcification, skeletons and growth forms, classification (major families, genera), feeding, growth, reproduction). Topic 4. Ecology of coral reefs (algal/coral interactions; primary production and nutrient sources, competition, disturbance theory, grazing and phase shifts; secondary production and trophic pathways). Topic 5. Coral reef communities (plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, keystone habitats and species, biodiversity values, threatened species) Topic 6. Human uses and values in South Pacific region (reef fisheries (traditional and modern); tourism; natural products; biodiversity and conservation). Topic 7. Major issues affecting coral reefs (status of world and SPC reefs; major threats, global coral bleaching events and global warming; terrestrial run-off; effects of fishing; ecosystem shifts). Topic 8. Coral reef conservation and management (traditional management strategies; marine protected areas, fisheries and tourism management strategies; multiple-use management models, co-management and LMMAs in South Pacific). Topic 9. Coral reef survey techniques (benthic survey techniques transects, intercepts and manta-tows; Reefcheck and GCRM; underwater visual census of reef fish).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.