Module Identifier BS21120  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr John Fish  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Alvin Jones, Dr Simon Creasey  
Pre-Requisite BS10710 - Introduction to Invertebrate Zoology  
Course delivery Lecture   30 Hours  
  Practical   15 Hours (5 x 3 hours)  
Assessment Continuous assessment   Continuous assessment of practicals. Practical reports are collected immediately after practical classes.   20%  
  Exam   3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper   80%  
  Resit assessment   3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative)    

Aims and objectives

This module has been designed as an introduction to marine biology. Through a series of lectures and practicals it aims to provide the student with a basic understanding of the nature of seas and oceans. Emphasis is placed on the understanding of biological systems, with particular reference to the plankton, the ecology of the intertidal and shallow sublittoral, and estuaries of temperate latitudes.


The module begins with a classification of the marine environment and an introduction to the major characteristics of the habitats to be studied. The main ocean current systems are described and discussed in relation to their importance in physical and biological oceanography with examples drawn from the Southern Ocean, the equatorial region and the North Atlantic.
The chemistry and composition of sea water is introduced with emphasis on sea water as a "biological environment" - salinity, nutrient profiles, nitrate and phosphate cycles, nutrient regeneration.
Lectures on tides and tidal theory stress the importance of the spring-neap tidal cycle and variability in the cycle. The tidal environment of the littoral zone is discussed in detail. The nature of waves is considered from the standpoint of their impact on the shore environment. Methods used to assess the impact of wave action on shore communities are reviewed.
Primary production and seasonal cycles of primary production in the oceans in relation to nutrients and physical controls are considered. Phytoplankton is considered as a source of dissolved organic matter in the sea and its utilisation by marine bacteria and the microbial loop in relation to the classic food chain. Grazing and the interrelationships between zooplankton and phytoplankton are investigated. This section of the course concludes with an introduction to food chains and plankton and fisheries.
An introduction to deep-sea biology is given through a consideration of the conditions which prevail in the deep and the adaptations shown by the fauna. This will include a discussion of hydrothermal vents, seeps and oxygen minimum zones; origin of deep-sea fauna, biodiversity; exploitation of resources.
The study of intertidal ecology begins with lectures on rocky shores. The universal nature of shore zonation is considered through a study of the physical factors on the shore and interactions between organisms. Physical factors are studied in conjunction with investigations into the physiological ecology of some common shore organisms. Competition for space, feeding strategies and grazing, and reproductive strategies are studied in some of the major groups. The impact of exposure to wave action on shore zonation is explained and the value of exposure scales is reviewed. Comparisons are made between rocky shores and sedimentary shores and the importance of the physical characteristics of sediments is stressed, leading to a consideration of the classical concepts of bottom fauna community ecology. The estuarine environment is considered in detail:- physical factors, communities of sand and mud flats, productivity, estuarine food webs.
Studies on intertidal ecology conclude with a consideration of mixing between populations and an introduction to the use of genetic markers.

The course concludes with a review of settlement behaviour of marine larvae.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module the student will

Reading Lists

** Reference Text
Grahame, J.. (1987) Plankton & fisheries. London: Edward Arnold.
Little, C. & Kitching, J.A.. (1996) The biology of rocky shores. Oxford University Press.
Levinton, J.S.. (1995) Marine biology. Function, biodiversity, ecology. Oxford University Press.
Raffaellia, D. & Hawkins, S.. (1996) Intertidal ecology. London: Chapman & Hall.
** Multiple Copies In Hugh Owen
Barnes, R.S.K. & Hughes, R.N.. (1988) An introduction to marine ecology. 2nd. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific.
Tait, R.V. & Dipper, F.A.. (1998) Elements of marine ecology. 4th. Butterworth: Heinemann.