Marine Physiology and Climate Change (BI/ES 593)



Marine Physiology and Climate Change (MPCC) is an experiential learning course that teaches upper-level undergraduate and graduate students about how marine organisms respond to climate change via their physiology. Through a mixture of lectures, readings, and a hands-on common garden tank experiment, students learn to design and implement a study, collect and analyze data, and broaden their understanding of how carbon emissions are affecting the world’s oceans. Students can also expect to develop the critical written and oral communication skills necessary to disseminate research. Check out the syllabus here or scroll down to see past experiments from the course.

2017 Photos

This year was the very first time the course was offered as part of the BU Marine Program Marine Semester. Check out the pictures to see what we were up to!

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  • Instructor Dr. Sarah Davies and PhD student Nicola Kriefall look for juvenile slipper snails for use in the course

  • Sarah gets up close and personal with some Crepidula

  • Special thanks to Dr. Jan Pechenik of Tufts University for field guidance!

  • PhD student Nicola Kriefall helps glue coral fragments to petri dishes

  • Lab manager Brooke dries a just-glued nubbin

  • Crepidula group

  • Students take tissue microsamples of Astrangia for transcriptomic analysis

  • Ready to make some measurements!

  • Students planning their study

  • Astrangia poculata

  • Collection site


Fall 2018

The effect of thermal stress and symbiotic status on host and symbiont physiologies in the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula/
Aichelman, A
This project aimed to investigate the influence of symbiotic state on extreme hot and extreme cold thermal responses of the coral, Oculina arbuscula/

Symbiotic status mediates quiescence, photosynthetic efficiency, and growth of the facultative coral, Astrangia poculata, under thermal stress
Brown CM, Pelose GE, and Wuitchik DM
This project aimed to investigate the influence of symbiotic state on extreme hot and extreme cold thermal responses of the coral, Astrangia poculata/

The effects of heat stress on growth and photosynthetic efficiency on the temperate coral ​​Astrangia poculata/
Chen X, DiRoberts L and K Richmond
This project aimed to investigate the effects of heat stress on Astrangia poculata/ growth and symbiont performance

Investigating the effects of thermal stress on the physiological responses and symbiont density of ​​Oculina arbuscula/
Nicole Haftel, Julia Russo, E Schlatter
This project aimed to investigate the effects of thermal stress on Oculina arbuscula/

Fall 2017

Effects of thermal stress on growth and mortality of juvenile Crepidula fornicata in New England
Gupta A, Pereira C, Soukup J
The common slipper shell is a limpet species native to the eastern coastline of North America exhibiting rapid changes in its spatial distribution. Students in this group sought to characterize the influence of ocean warming on juveniles of the species.

‘Burning ​Pocillopora​’: Coral bleaching and recovery in response to a heat stress gradient
Kriefall N, Galeas Veliz K, Wong T
Corals of the Pocillopora genus are key reef builders in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, but climate change threatens to severely impair reef health. This group conducted a ramping heat experiment to evaluate the corals’ stress response.

Assessing the effects of cold thermal stress on ​Astrangia poculata​ quiescence: analyzing photosynthetic efficiency, calcification rate, polyp behavior and Symbiodinium
Brennan S, Liesegang M, Almanzar A, Chavez D
Astrangia poculata is a temperate coral found in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic Ocean. Unlike tropical corals, A. poculata can live without the intracellular algae known as Symbiodinium. This study assessed the impact of cold stress on corals in different symbiotic states.