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UQx: Coral Reefs: Introduction to Challenges and Solutions

Explore one of the world’s most unique ecosystems, tropical coral reefs, while understanding the key threats to reef health and their solutions.

Coral Reefs: Introduction to Challenges and Solutions
12 weeks
2–4 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Started Oct 31
Ends May 13

About this course

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This course is an introduction to the science, ecologcal value, threats and conservation strategies of tropical coral feef ecosystems. It has a practical focus and invites you to apply your learning to your own context and to interact and share with your peers from across the planet.

Your experience in the course will begin by exploring the diverse and interconnected life underwater within tropical coral reef ecosystems. You will also seek to understand how humans interact with, and in some ways threaten, this ecosystem balance. Your learning journey is wrapped up by building on your earlier CRRI101x knowledge by delving into practical approaches to understanding and conserving coral reef ecosystems to ensure their long-term health.

Guest contributions from practitioners world-wide help to ensure a variety of perspectives and expertise are included in this well-rounded introductory course. A special thanks to the guest lecturers including, Prof. Catherine Lovelock (UQ), Ms Mibu Fischer (CSIRO), Prof. Peter Mumby (UQ), Ms Stacy Jupiter (Wildlife Conservation Society), Dr. Caitie Kuempel (Griffith University), Derek Manzello (NOAA Coral Reef Watch), Ms Brianna Bambic (Allen Coral Atlas) and Ms Carol Phua (CRRI).

This course has been funded by the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative (CRRI), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Global Environment Facility CRR GEF project.

At a glance

  • Institution: UQx
  • Subject: Biology & Life Sciences
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    You are not required to have any experience or knowledge of academic disciplines; however, an interest in science or marine conservation would be useful.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills:Wildlife Conservation, Ecosystem Science, Management

What you'll learn

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Completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify the parts of coral reef ecosystems outlined in the course and describe how the components function and interact.
  2. Justify the importance and describe the roles of coral reef ecosystems.
  3. Describe the local and global threats and stressors that coral reef ecosystems face.
  4. Understand and examine data collection and the solutions for how we can begin to reverse the loss of coral reef ecosystems.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to cooperate effectively with others to share information and solutions.

Module 1: The Tropical Coral Reef Ecosystem: Rainforests of the Sea

In this module, we will introduce you to tropical coral reef ecosystems. First, we will explore the geography of tropical coral reefs and other interconnected ecosystems with a guest feature from Professor Catherine Lovelock from UQ. Then, through the lens of the food web (trophic interactions), we will begin to explore the myriad of different animals, plants and bacteria that interact to create the coral reef ecosystem.

Module 2: The Importance of Coral Reef Ecosystems

In this module, we zoom out from the reef itself and begin to explore the details of human interactions and relationships within tropical coral reef ecosystems.

We use the lens of 'ecosystem services' with the help of coral reef ecologist Prof. Peter Mumby from UQ, to explore and understand the benefits that humans receive from natural ecosystems. We also hear from Mibu Fischer (CSIRO) who discusses a non-Western perspective on the value of coral reef ecosystems.

Module 3: Global Threats to Coral Reef Ecosystems

In this module, we will introduce you to the global stressors that threaten coral reef ecosystems, focusing particularly on climate change as an overarching concept that encompasses a multitude of interconnected processes and impacts on communities.

Module 4: Local Threats to Coral Reef Ecosystems

In Module 4 we uncover the specific challenges that coral reefs face in their immediate environments through a comprehensive exploration of key subjects, such as: water quality, over-harvesting, and unsustainable coastal zone management with the help of Dr Caitie Kuempel. Additionally, we will highlight local solutions that play a pivotal role in safeguarding these intricate ecosystems for future generations featuring expert Stacy Jupiter the Melanesia Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Module 5: Reef Monitoring Information and Data

Here we will explore different methods of data collection and analysis, focusing particularly on the latest satellite remote sensing technology and how it has revolutionised the monitoring of coral reefs and our ability to identify potential problems quickly and efficiently. Renowned guest lecturers featured in this module assist in providing learners with a strong understanding of data and monitoring systems. Guests include Derek Manzello, Coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, and Brianna Bambic from the Allen Coral Atlas.

Module 6: Possible Solutions

In this concluding module, we will cover some key principles needed for crafting impactful and equitable conservation solutions. Developing learners understanding of important principles for effective and equitable conservation and development practice, provides a valuable toolkit for tackling real-world challenges. This final module concludes with Q &A interviews with the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative's Lead Carol Phua, and Chief Scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg that helps tie course concepts into practice.

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