Back to Curry Home Page

Special Topics: Field Biology & Natural History of Nova Scotia, Summer 2016

Course numbers

  • Bio 3955 Topics in Biology, 4 credits, lecture & lab; online distance-learning pre-trip preparation and post-trip reflection/assignments


  • Summer Session III (June & July): hybrid format, combining Distance Learning pre- and post-trip work with field trip
  • Distance Learning elements will concentrate on ...
    • Assignments prior to the field trip focusing on preparation for travel and field activities that will take place in Nova Scotia. Readings will be administered through Blackboard using online sources; the course will not involve required purchase of a major textbook
    • Assignments after the trip will involve write-up of field observations and exercises
  • The required field trip--which constitutes the central element of the course as a whole--will involve ...
    • Travel by University van from Villanova to southwestern Nova Scotia, using ferry between Portland, ME, and Yarmouth, NS (or, if necessary, between Saint John, NB, and Digby, NS). It probably will be possible for us to pick up students between Philadelphia and Portland en route (it would not be necessary for students to ever come to the Villanova campus).
    • Trip dates (includes travel days): 6 - 21 July
    • Most activities in Nova Scotia (13-14 days) will take place in Yarmouth County, or in adjacent Digby and Shelburne Counties
    • While in Nova Scotia, we will camp using tents and equipment provided by Villanova, or stay in cottages owned by the Curry family; we will also spend several nights on Bon Portage Island at Acadia University's field station

Note: A 2-credit version, offered in summer 2013 and summer 2014, using the hybrid format described above, was very successful. Contact information for students who completed that offering of the class (and are willing to answer questions) is available from Dr. Curry on request.


  • coursework equivalent to General Biology I & II or equivalent to Environmental Science 1 & 2, and/or permission of instructor


  • Summer Session III tuition
  • $900 additional, which will cover the per capita cost of ferry passage, accommodations, food, and all required course activities (e.g., whale-watch trip)

Field trip activities planned

  • Bird-banding and field identification
  • Forest ecology and natural history
  • Salt marsh ecology
  • Intertidal and rocky shore ecology
  • Fisheries ecology and survey of fishing technologies
  • Whale watching: boat trip from Brier Island, Digby Co.
  • Lake and stream ecology

Student equipment needed


  • Clothing appropriate for fieldwork in wet/buggy/muddy conditions (long pants, long-sleeved shirts)
  • Hiking boots and/or rubber boots ("wellies" recommended)
  • Day pack
  • Field notebook, writing implements
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Binoculars (pairs available to borrow from Villanova with security deposit, but own binoculars preferable as long as good quality)
  • Sleeping bag


  • Camera
  • Bathing suit(s)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Rain pants
  • Fishing rod (no license required for saltwater fishing; non-resident license required [extra cost] for freshwater fishing)


Page last updated: Friday, 06 May 2016