FHL 468 | Summer B 2021

Marine Subtidal Ecology 2021

Credits: 9

Instructor(s): Dr. Katie Dobkowski , Timothy Dwyer , Pema Kitaeff


Are you excited about exploring the world beneath the waves and investigating questions about how and where subtidal creatures live? In Marine Subtidal Ecology (FHL 468), you will explore the temperate nearshore subtidal through a combination of interactive lectures and labs, field research activities, and a group research project that addresses one aspect of a broader class-wide question. Field research activities will put students in the water and provide training in the techniques subtidal researchers use to do science underwater. Expect to get wet and salty, safely! If you don’t yet have a favorite marine organism in the Salish Sea, you certainly will by the end of this course.

Watch this video to meet two of the instructors and learn more about the course :

Youtube: 2021 Marine Subtidal Ecology course at FHL


Learning Objectives


  • Discuss foundational concepts and theories of subtidal marine ecology
  • Compare/contrast marine habitats, organismal life history strategies, and species interactions of subtidal marine organisms
  • Assess how human activities impact subtidal marine ecosystems and evaluate current conservation challenges and strategies


  • Conduct a group research project (addressing one aspect of a broader question), including hypothesis generation, experimental design, data collection and analysis, and manuscript/presentation preparation
  • Develop expertise in identification of Salish Sea invertebrate, macroalgae, and fish species
  • Read primary literature and collect/analyze/interpret data drawn from a variety of sources to draw evidence-based conclusions
  • Become familiar with a variety of data collection techniques (observational and experimental) in order to safely conduct in-water research via snorkeling*
  • If Covid-19 guidelines for the 2021 research season allow, students with previous SCUBA experience may be able to complete 12+ “diver in training” dives required by AAUS standards to qualify as a full scientific diver, OR active scientific divers with reciprocity may be accepted with diving approval **

Please contact Pema with further questions, pema@uw.edu

Graded assignments will include lab activities, a field notebook, a lab practical exam, and a group research project (including proposal/final paper/presentation to the FHL community). In-class participation (including all in-water activities) and leading a journal article discussion (with a partner) will also be important aspects of this course.

Applicants should have completed a course in ecology OR marine biology. No textbook is required.

* For snorkeling, students should bring a cold-water wetsuit, mask and snorkel, and fins.

** If scientific diver training can be offered, incoming divers-in-training will need to provide their own cold-water appropriate SCUBA gear and meet specific SCUBA diving requirements several months prior to the beginning of the course.  An additional course fee for diving students will be assessed to cover UW and FHL dive fees.


Photo credits: Galloway, Lowe, and Graham.


Katie Dobkowski, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor Bates College
Lewiston, Maine

Timothy Dwyer, M.S.
Science Teacher
Spring Street International School
Friday Harbor, Washington

Pema Kitaeff, M.S.
Dive Officer
University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories
Friday Harbor, Washington