Module Identifier BS21120  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr John D Fish  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Helen Marshall  
Course delivery Lecture   30 x 1h lectures  
  Practical   3 x 3 hours (duplicated)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper  80%
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: Continuous assessment of practicals. Practical reports are collected immediately after practical classes.  20%
Supplementary Assessment3 Hours One 3-hour theory paper (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative)  100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module the student will be able to

Brochure Text


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. Grazing and the interrelationships between zooplankton and phytoplankton are investigated. The behaviour of zooplankton is discussed and 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 the life-cycles of selected species with emphasis on substrate selection and behaviour at settlement.

Reading Lists

** General Text
Grahame, J. (1987) Plankton & fisheries London: Edward Arnold.
Lalli, C.M. & Parsons, T.T. (1997) Biological oceanography- an introduction. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.
Levinton, J.S. (1995) Marine biology. Function, biodiversity, ecology Oxford University Press.
Raffaelli, D. & Hawkins, S. (1996) Intertidal ecology London: Chapman & Hall.
** Recommended Text
Kaiser, M.J. et al (2005) Marine ecology Processes, systems, and impacts. Oxford University Press
** 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.


This module is at CQFW Level 5