EZO-22806 Marine Life


Studiepunten 6.00

Learning supported by IT11
Practical intensively supervised35
Field Practical32
Course coordinator(s)dr. MJM Lankheet
Lecturer(s)dr. MJM Lankheet
dr. AAM van Lammeren
Examiner(s)dr. MJM Lankheet
dr. AAM van Lammeren

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

High School Biology

Continuation courses:

Vertebrate Structure & Function, Functional Zoology, Structure & Physiology of Plants, Development and Reproduction of Plants


Marine life consists of a wide variety of (lower) plants and animals, each adapted to specific biotic and abiotic conditions. How have widely different marine organisms adapted in structure, functioning and behavior to survive and reproduce in the spectrum of marine conditions? Potential niches of algae (green, brown and red) and animals (from sponges, corals, shellfish and worms to crayfish, squids, sea urchins, fish and mammals) and their interactions in a marine community are constrained by the potential for organismal adaptations. This type of knowledge on marine life is essential for properly managing components of the marine resource community towards a balanced sustainable use, while conserving the ecosystem as a whole.
Following lectures, dissection and IT-supported practicals, all aspects are finally integrated and extended in a field course in the intertidal marine area (in Wimereux, France). Here we will study the adaptations and constraints of plant and animal life and their interactions in diverse communities. In addition, we study commercial catches of shellfish, crayfish, squids and fish. Field observations in a wide array of habitats and corresponding laboratory studies are reported orally and by written reports.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to:
- recognize the wide diversity of lower plants and animals, to identify their characteristic structural and functional properties, and to relate diverse characteristics to marine niches where they function as living systems;
- understand how organisms of increasingly complex design (from protista to mammals) perform similar functions: feeding, respiration, excretion, transport, locomotion, coordination and integration, reproduction;
- understand how organisms with a similar design survive in different environments (adaptive radiation): the biological options and constraints in adapting to marine conditions and utilizing marine resources;
- understand the processes and mechanisms that shaped biological diversity during the individual (ontogenetic) and the evolutionary (phylogenetic) time scale;
- understand the impact of abiotic factors (exposure, substrate, water content, salinity, temperature, oxygen content) and biotic factors (community with other plants and animals) on structure, function and behavior of organisms;
- be able to apply the acquired theoretical knowledge in field conditions;
- develop skills for research: observation, problem definition, analysis (including dissection), synthesis, discussion and reporting (both orally, by writing and by drawing).


Lectures (24) and dissection practicals (35) on preserved marine invertebrate and vertebrate animals and algae, integrated with theoretical issues and interactive CD-ROMs (12 IT) including self-tests. During the field course (32) students experience an intensive introduction in intertidal biology showing a wide diversity of plant and animal life. They characterize (in biotic and physical sense) selected field locations at low-tide. Collected samples are studied by teams of two students: taxonomical position, structure, functioning, life style, biological and economical role. Some simple experiments are designed and performed to study and quantify adaptation. All studies are orally presented to the group, and written down for the report.
Marine commercial catches (fish and invertebrates) are identified at the Fishing port of Boulogne sur Mer, close to our host Institute, Station de Biologie Marine in Wimereux (N-Fr), where ecomorphology of fish is studied. Most groups of invertebrate animals only occur in the marine habitat, and the selected location in the far north of France is the nearest area to explore adaptations of animals and plants to highly varied biotic and abiotic environmental factors, including vertical springtide differences up to 8 meter. The host institute offers aquarium facilities for observation, laboratory studies and experiments.


The written exam includes three components, each contributing: Theory 50%, Practicals 30% and the Fieldcourse 20%.


Marine Biology, Castro & Huber, McGraw-Hill (7th edition 2007), Integrated Principles of Zoology from McGraw-Hill by Hickman CP, et al; 15th edition (2011) and lecture handouts. Reader 'Marine Life'. A field guide is supplied for loan

Verplicht voor: BASAnimal SciencesBScB: Aquatic Organisms6WD
Verplicht voor: WUMLRBSc Minor Marine Living Resources6WD