Course history

Based on the enormous richness of the fauna and flora of marine coastal areas, and a strong belief that a basic knowledge of marine biology is an essential aspect of zoological curricula, a marine biological field course to STARESO station headed by Reinhard Rieger, Hellmuth Forstner and Gerhard Haszprunar together with 15 students of the University of Innsbruck was held for the first time in 1992. Corsica was initially selected because the traditional field courses in Rovinj, Croatia, could not be continued due to safety reasons caused by the Yugoslav Wars. The first course was highly explorative, however compared to the Croatian coast, Corsica showed a very different fauna, typical for the oligotrophic waters of southern Ligurian Sea. Based on the positive experiences made, the field course was repeated and implemented as a biannual course, and is going in its 14th edition in 2018. Central aims in the first ventures were the detailed observation of various marine coastal habitats, marine biodiversity, adaptations and ecological interactions. These issues have remained main objects of study in the first week in our ongoing courses. One of the current course teachers, Reinhold Hanel, participated as a student in the first course and remained associated ever since.

In the 1998 course, Reinhold Hanel began to study feeding behavior and territoriality in distinct fish groups, and this topic is still analyzed as a project in the second course week. He then started to hold a position as Junior Professor for fisheries biology at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Science at Kiel University, and as a result of this personal connection, since 2004 this field course is a joint enterprise including students of the Master Zoology at the University of Innsbruck and the Master Biological Oceanography at the University of Kiel. From 2002 to 2014, Robert Gschwentner focused as a long-term course teacher on mollusk biodiversity of the Adriatic sea. His establishment of a STARESO area species catalogue of mollusks - one among those animal phyla with fundamental impact on marine ecosystems - will be an indispensable support for the students in future courses. Bert Hobmayer joined the course in 2006 and established the analysis of early sea urchin development, which since then is studied as another project in the second week. In summary, marine biodiversity, fish biology, and embryology are the core issues of our current field course, and they are without doubt among the exciting fields in modern marine biological research.

Former course teachers:

Reinhard Rieger (1992 - 2000, 2004, 2006); Hellmuth Forstner (1992, 1994); Gerhard Haszprunar (1992 - 1994); Christian Sturmbauer (1996 - 2000); Josef Dalla Via (1996); Robert Gschwentner (2002 - 2014).

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