Dr David P Gillikin (home)

Geo 305 Biogeochemistry

Biology, geology and chemistry are intricately linked to form the world around us. John Muir was aware of this in 1911 when he wrote his famous quote “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe”. Biogeochemical cycles set the stage for life on Earth. This course explores the water, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and carbon cycles at the surface of the Earth. We investigate how biological (e.g., primary production, respiration), anthropogenic (e.g., urbanization, pollution) and geological processes (e.g., rock weathering) influence these chemical cycles. Field studies focus on tropical marine biogeochemistry of coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, lagoons, estuaries, hyper saline lakes, and tidal flats. Course includes a required weeklong field trip to either the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation in Bocas del Toro Panama, or the Gerace Research Center on San Salvador Island or other tropical feild station.
San Salvador, Bahamas


The trip involves daily snorkels, a cave trip, a visit to a fossil reef, and research projects in various locations on the island.

Snorkeling the reefs Canoe-sampling Pigeon Creek Snorkeling in the mangroves


Dates  - Bahamas trip: End of November/ First week in December (following Thanksgiving, for 7-10 days)
Information and updates about the course will be posted here and on Moodle.  The field trip is required for the course.
The course meets in the fall term like a regular science course, but the lab component takes place on the Island.
Photo by J Garver

 You MUST: 1) Petition for the course 2)  SUBMIT a short application to Deb Klein in the Geology Office, Olin 310 to be considered for this course.

Prerequisites: Any introductory geology, environmental science, chemistry, or biology course. All students must meet basic term abroad requirements and submit an application.



Exploring Lighthouse Cave Island transportation Island nightlife
(sample analysis is done at night to enjoy the sun duing the day!)


Course textbook


Photo by J Garver

Contact Information

David P. Gillikin, Ph.D.
Professor of Geology
Department of Geology
Union College
807 Union St
Schenectady, NY 12308

phone: 518-388-6679
email: gillikid@union.edu