Conservation Biology of Endangered Marine Species

Universidad Veritas

Course Description

Course name: Conservation Biology and Endangered Marine Species

Course code: ENV 3160

Total contact hours: 60

Pre-requisites: none


This course is aimed to highlight the importance of conservation biology in managing endangered marine species by emphasizing in recent conservation efforts of umbrella species such as sea turtles and sharks in the Pacific of Costa Rica. Marine ecosystems of the eastern tropical Pacific provide a baseline source for species of high commercial interest in satisfying humans demand for food worldwide. However, numerous marine species are threatened by unsustainable human activities, such as overfishing and habitat destruction. We will develop a critical understanding of conservation biology, deepening in the general concept of biodiversity in species and ecosystems. We will analyze current case studies that focus on scientific investigations to answer critical life history aspects, recovery programs, species management, community conservation actions, and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The students will also be introduced to a wide range of practical activities by visiting field stations and natural laboratories in Costa Rica.


It is necessary for foreign students to have clothes both for warm climate and for cold (not extreme), as well as closed shoes (hiking shoes and rubber boots if possible) since many field trips are made to highlands, rainy zones, and sometimes to areas with the possible presence of snakes, insects, and other animals. We’ve never had an accident under those circumstances, but we want our students to be as comfortable and safe as possible. The appropriate clothing and footwear also facilitate the field work of this course.


This course is structured for international students attending the Study Abroad Program at an LCI Education university campus. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners so local degree-seeking students may enroll in this course. Some of the courses are also taught in Spanish as part of our Bachelor´s in Sustainability Management or Business Administration programs. This is a theoretical-practical course and explores/responds to the following inquiry according to the professional/disciplinary profile: How has Conservation Biology been applied to document marine biodiversity, investigate human impact, and develop practical approaches to prevent the extinction of species?

In order to respond this question, we will study the following generative topics:

o Fundamental concepts of Conservation Biology.

o Biodiversity in the present and past.

o Concept of species and evolution.

o International organizations for the conservation of species.

o Endangered marine species (EMS).

o Migration patterns and life cycles of EMS.

o Anthropogenic impact in marine ecosystems. Along the course, the following skills will be fostered:  

o Ability to understand the fundaments of conservation biology as a science.

o Ability to debate about the significance of the biodiversity in past and presents. Ability to understand the fundaments of conservation biology as a science.

o Ability to identify the international organizations for conservation and their interactions with society.

o Ability to discuss about the endangered marine species, their biology, and what makes them vulnerable.

o Ability to identify human impacts that threaten marine biodiversity.

Among the values and attitudes that will be promoted among the students are the following:

o Excellence in performance evidence.

o Responsibility to achieve goals.

o Tolerance to work in group.

o Respect to nature and their ecosystem (organism, stakeholder, and local community).

o Negotiating and knowing how to inspire trust and empathy. The competencies for the Veritas University are reflexive and integral actions that respond to the professional profile and to the problems of the context, with suitability and ethical commitment, integrating the know-how and the of being, know-how and knowledge to grow in a perspective of improvement.


Unit 1. What is Conservation Biology?

o The new science of Conservation Biology.

o Conservation Biology in the Sea.

o Biodiversity in the past (extinction).

o Biodiversity (species diversity, genetic diversity and ecosystem diversity).

Unit 2. Endangered Marine Species and International Regulations

o Current problems in Marine Conservation.

o International conventions for the conservation of species.

o Threats to Endangered Marine Species.

Unit 3. Concept of Species, Communities and Evolution

o Concept of species.

o Evolutionary processes.

o Speciation and adaptation.

Unit 4. Conservation Genetics: Lets go to the lab!

o Introduction to conservation genetics.

o Application of genetic tools in Conservation.

o Lets go to the lab, DNA extraction, PCR and electrophoresis.  

Unit 5. Tropical Conservation in Marine Biology: case studies

o Research and case studies on marine species from the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

o Marine Protected Areas in Costa Rica.


This course promotes the interaction between the students and the teacher, in order to develop active feedback between the two parties. The course will be composed of participatory activities such as debates, roundtables, oral presentations, and laboratory practices. Additionally, through current case studies students can propose solutions for the conservation of marine endangered species and discuss controversial topics regarding conservation biology in the tropics. This in turn will allow students to learn and critically analyze different real-life situationsin which they can apply the theory to propose new ideas and strategies for conservation. The role of the professor is to mediate, facilitate and guide the teaching and learning proves, allowing students to build and self-regulate learning, based on their previously collected information. The student is active, the teaching-learning process is collective and socialized. It also fosters social integration, the development of group work skills, community feeling and respect, without neglecting individualization.


In order to guarantee a good development of the course, therefore, to guarantee learning, the following resources are available: an updated bibliographic database, multimedia equipment that students can use for their individual presentations, whiteboards and other school equipment for weekly sessions, and readings provided by the educator. All of these 8 complement the suggested projects and provide the students with higher possibilities of knowledge ownership. Most of the lessons will take place in the classroom. During independent work periods students will be able to attend the institution. A campus library, study rooms, and computer labs are available for the students´ independent work time. Free Wi-Fi connection for students, educators, and staff is provided on campus, which gives students the possibility to work not only in the library or computer labs, but also around campus.


In order to make the course or program better competencies-based evaluation compiles and evaluates evidence by taking into account feedback providing pre-established criteria. The course evaluation must be aligned with the competencies and the teaching methodology. There is a rubric for each evaluation resource, and the details will be provided in CANVAS LMS. Even though the rubric grants a grade, it is also a quantitative and qualitative description of the students´ performance. The rubrics include the core and discipline key competences. Rubrics Weight

Roundtable Debate: o One thematic discussion of a current issue in Conservation Biology. 10%

“IUCN” Oral Presentation: o Group/individual 15%

Marine Endangered Species Oral Presentation: o Group/individual oral presentations 15%

Video field trip report: o One video field trip report 10%  Lab Report o Laboratory practices (“CIS Forensic on illegal trade of shark fins”) 25%

Final presentation: o Topic assigned at the beginning of the course (includes scientific article and oral presentation) 25%

TOTAL: 100% 

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units

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