ARMS Restore Graduate and Undergraduate course

About ARMS Restore project ǀ Course Materials

1. Introduction

The Fisheries and Marine Sciences Institute (IH.SM) of the University of Toliara was created in 1992 following the fusion of three entities: the Marine Station of Toliara, the Applied Oceanology Department of the University and the Higher Training Unit on Fisheries. Its missions comprise training and research in the domain of Marine Sciences, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine and Coastal Environment.

The Institute is in charge of the training of higher technicians, fisheries engineers and biological oceanographers (Bachelor, Master and Doctorate). The Institute is also providing retraining of agents from private companies and public administration personnel, depending on their needs. Oceanography is one of the specialisations provided by the Institute in response to the loss of the quality of the environment due to climate change and other anthropogenic activities, the overexploitation of coastal and marine resources, and the development of Marine Protected Areas and Aquaculture.

Focus on coral reefs. Marine and coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves and phanerogam meadows, salt marshes, and mangroves play an essential role in maintaining the balance of the biosphere. However, in recent decades, these ecosystems have become severely threatened. The research and training programmes of IH.SM are constantly adapting to current global and local needs and contexts. In order to meet these needs, the Institute, through its research and training teams, recently provided short-term training programmes, such as a two-week summer school on Reef Heritage Vulnerability, and a one year training of young conservationists from around the country (BSc in biological science) in the Marine and Coastal Environment. Moreover, many of the Institute’s current research projects focus on these critical ecosystems. The Marine and Coastal Environment research unit is highly research active, with seven doctoral research projects (PhD students), five of which focus on coral reef ecology, within the “Coral Reef Research Education and Conservation Team” Laboratory.

Furthermore, IH.SM is the only marine science institute in Madagascar and the ARMS Restore project will assist the University in its goal of becoming a leader in reef science and conservation in the region. One of the objectives of the project (Objective 7) is to create marine science education opportunities in Southwest Madagascar and build local reef conservation and restoration capacity.

Thus, the project assists the institute in filling gaps in expertise and curriculum development. Aquaculture development is a particular interest of IHSM faculty and PI Troell will contribute educational opportunities, both for faculty and students, on this topic. ARMS are ideal for hands-on educational activities. PI Hartmann developed undergraduate field classes using ARMS to teach biodiversity in the Philippines. PIs Hartmann and Todinanahary will create and teach a similar field reef ecology course for graduate and undergraduate students at IHSM. As part of the course, students will have the opportunity to use ARMS, build artificial reefs, and collect and process ARMS, thus linking education and data collection while training the next generation of Malagasy marine scientists.

Below is a description of the course.

2. Course targets

The target enrolment for the course is 25 students of Master 1 level. These students follow the IH.SM’s Marine and Fisheries Science training program and will have a solid background in biological sciences, oceanology and fisheries. The IH.SM training department agreed to include an extra 2 weeks for these students to get trained through the project/this course, and recognised the utility and complementarity of the course with the official academic program. The course is planned for the three successive years of the project, with an explicit project goal of ensuring that the course becomes institutionalised at IH.SM and thus can be repeated for as many years as deemed valuable (i.e., well past the end of the project).

3. Curriculum

3.1. Lectures

Face-to-face lectures will be organised on the IH.SM premises. IH.SM will provide a classroom with appropriate facilities for the dissemination of course materials (video projectors, whiteboard, etc.). If necessary, the courses can be organised remotely by videoconference. The IH.SM has a high-speed internet connection. In the event of a power cut, an emergency generator is available and functional.

In order to optimise the organisation and allow a better understanding of the theoretical courses, some of the lectures will be organised in remote villages during field works, in the Bay of Ranobe, alternating with the field activities. Therefore, the project will purchase the equipment and consumables necessary to perform the courses in the villages: video projectors, whiteboard, internet box, etc. Table 1 summarises the main topics to be covered during the course.

Discipline Lecturers
INTRODUCTIONS AND GLOBAL CONTEXT Gildas Todinanahary, Max Troell, Lantoasinoro Ranivoarivelo
ECOLOGY Aaron Hartmann, Gildas Todinanahary
DIVERSITY OF ECOLOGY AND FISH CATCH Jean-Dominique, Thomas Lamy, Marc Léopold
R BOOTCAMP (rescheduled for later) Jessica Zamborain Mason and Daniel Viana, Thomas Lamy


3.2. Field activities

Table 2 shows the main field activities related to the disciplines taught and the lectures.

ARMS will be fabricated prior to the course. In year 1, students will assemble and deploy the ARMS in select sites in the Bay of Ranobe. These sites will be selected based on the expectation that, among them, there will be variation in species composition and biodiversity (e.g., artificial reefs, see below) with supplemental activities to understand biodiversity in the field. The ARMS take a while to collect biodiversity, so the students for the first year won’t be able to get ARMS that have been deployed for a year. However, the alternative for the first-year training would be to deploy ARMS asap so that they are ready to be collected during the course. They won’t have had a full year of deployment, but they should have enough biodiversity to be interesting for the students. In year 2, students will collect the ARMS deployed in year 1, then will disassemble and investigate their biodiversity. Afterwards, the year 2 students will redeploy the ARMS for the year 3 students. In year 3, the students will repeat.

Artificial reefs are already deployed in Ranobe Bay and Toliara Bay. Different types of artificial reefs are available and can be the subject of ARMS deployment, observation, community engagement. Additional artificial reefs will be fabricated as part of the project (by the local community) as well as installed and monitored. When opportune, students should assist these activities and participate.

Ex-situ reef mesocosm. PI Todinanahary manages an indoor ex-situ aquarium for coral study and experimentation. The aquarium was shut down due to control issues during the pandemic and the lack of a permanent technician. The aquarium is being restarted. The needs will be partly met from the project budget. An outdoor aquarium is also being set up first in order to have a mirror of the indoor aquarium, with sunlight as source of irradiance (intensity will be controlled with shading), the light irradiance being one of the essential parameters to the survival and the growth of the corals. Using both indoor and outdoor aquariums will be important in performing comparative experiences (ex: test temperature and lights on coral physiology/bleaching/stress, etc.).
The aquariums will be used to demonstrate to the graduate students, corals related courses (coral farming/planting technique, etc.)

Aquaculture farms. Community-based aquaculture is rapidly developing in the southwest region of Madagascar, especially in the Bays of Ranobe and Toliara. In particular, sea cucumber and seaweed farms are present in nearly every village of these bays.

Table 2: Main field activities

Discipline Title Responsible Location
Reef ecology ARMS deployment, training and collection Aaron Hartmann Ifaty
  Artificial reefs and coral farming Gildas Todinanahary Ifaty
Human health and nutrition Survey tools and data collection? Chris Golden Ifaty / Mangily
Aquaculture Visiting/understanding aquaculture practises? Max Troell, Thierry Lavitra Andrevo
 Fisheries Supervised survey about fisheries or GPS data treatment demonstration Marc Léopold Ifaty


4. Planning and logistical organisation

Transportation. Depending on the needs of the planned activities, bus and boat transportation is available locally.
Food and lodging in the field. Food and lodging for students will be covered by the project budget. Students will be provided overnight lodging and food. Details are to be defined depending on the location of the field works and durations.

Date: February 13, 2023 to February 22, 2023
Venue : IH.SM Rue Dr Rabesandratana HD, Toliara – 601, Madagascar

5. Tentative schedule

Coming soon …