Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE)
Applied Coastal Ecology is a unique applied biology and ecology program. It combines the practical technical skills and academic theory needed for careers in coastal ecosystem protection and restoration.
The ACE program balances foundational biology, geography, geology, chemistry, and oceanography with the practicality of applied courses in rainforest ecology, First Nations studies, stream assessment and wildlife management. Students develop the technical writing, surveying, computer database management and mapping skills necessary for working in the field of coastal ecology.
Students study first-hand how coastal ecosystems react to the stresses imposed on them by human activity, and how to apply specific procedures to mitigate those impacts to restore healthy ecosystems. Hatcheries, shorelines, estuaries and rainforests become classrooms where students apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills to real-world projects and gain valuable employment-ready experience. Students practice the methods for collecting biological samples, learn a variety of approaches to managing and enhancing forests, soils, fish and wildlife populations, complete habitat assessments and ecosystem classifications, and make remediation/mitigation recommendations. Technical courses often incorporate materials and procedures developed and endorsed by professionals, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministry of Forests, and other governmental bodies.
APPLIED RESEARCH PROJECTS
Applied Coastal Ecology students are given the opportunity to employ their knowledge and skills to identify, research and participate in real-world community-based projects.
On BC’s south coast, the survival rate of the iconic Great Blue Heron recently declined by 50 per cent. Applied Coastal Ecology students posed the question “Is a similar decline in Blue Heron populations occurring on the north coast?” They researched the problem and launched the ongoing Great Blue Heron Research Project. Each year, ACE students collect and contribute data on local herons including discoveries made from a live-streaming video camera mounted near a heron rookery. The camera allows a close-up view of the nesting and rearing habits of a family of herons. ACE students then help to educate others by sharing their knowledge of Great Blue Herons through presentations for school and community groups.
Declines in Abalone populations led to a province-wide moratorium on harvesting in 1990. The expected result of the prohibition—a revitalization of the stock—has not occurred. To help discover why, ACE students are working with local groups to set up and maintain live-streaming video cameras overlooking important abalone habitat. The remote locations of these sites pose a number of challenges for ACE students. Overcoming these challenges gives ACE students the opportunity to develop unique skills and contribute to valuable research.