MAE-30306 Marine Animal Ecology


Studiepunten 6.00

Individual Paper1
Group work2
Excursion (multiple days)14
Course coordinator(s)dr. R Osinga
dr. LE Becking
Lecturer(s)dr. R Osinga
dr. LE Becking
prof. dr. AJ Murk
Examiner(s)prof. dr. AJ Murk

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Life History of Aquatic Organisms AFI-31306; Marine Systems:AEW-22806

Continuation courses:

MAE-50306 Short Research Projects in Marine Animal Ecology, MAE-Thesis, and MAE-Internship


This course aims at providing knowledge and understanding on the functioning, resilience, and health of marine animals in interaction with their environment, and linking this to management of biodiversity and use of marine animal resources. In this course we will focus on the mechanisms of adaptation to environmental changes in marine animals and how these mechanisms influence the ecosystem. We will then use understanding of these ecological mechanisms to explore the concept and implementation of Building with Nature, the synergistic combination of coastal engineering and ecological processes.
Adaptation involves different ecological and evolutionary time-scales, from short-term plasticity to long-term adaptation. A multi-level approach will be taken: adaptation at the organism level (eco-physiology, recruitment and early life-stage development), at the population level (population genomics/genetics) and at the ecosystem level (shifts in community composition). Latest developments in the field will be used to illustrate ecological concepts in multiple ecosystems, including temperate, tropical and deep sea systems. Understanding of these concepts is vital to assess the adaptive responses of animals and ecosystems to various influences and human activities and the opportunities for management of a.o. biodiversity, invasive species or impacts of climate change. Techniques that are used in marine animal ecology will be discussed and practised.
Building with Nature is an approach in which local conditions are taken into account during an early planning stage of coastal engineering, to be able to make use of services provided by engineering species and additional positive effects of local ecosystem functions. The local conditions include the natural physical processes, ecology and social-economic aspects. By not just building in nature but also with nature, additional benefits can be created for nature, recreation and the local economy while preventing adverse effects. Current developments will be included such as the implementation of bivalve reefs for coastal protection and marine production and dedicated coral reef building and restauration that enhance biodiversity and provide several ecosystem services for local communities. To experience the complexity of building with nature projects, the students will develop a conceptual design, including physical, ecological, economic, and governance aspects.
We expect active participation from the students during interactive lectures, tutorials, practicals and monitoring activities at an oyster reef in the Netherlands. During, the course, selected trending topics in marine animal ecology will be presented. Each student has to define an interesting or relevant research question and write a short research proposal. The student also will pitch this proposal during a short presentation.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- demonstrate insight in the most relevant terms, principles and concepts of marine animal ecology;
- describe approaches and methods to study different aspects of marine animal ecology;
- explain the complexity of marine ecosystems and the associated challenges for conservation management;;
- design, perform and analyze a laboratory experiment;
- develop a conceptual BwN design including physical, ecological, economic, and governance aspects;
- collect, analyze and critically consider scientific information on a current issue;
- develop a testable hypothesis and write a basic research proposal;
- provide and receive positive feedback during peer-review processes;
- present and defend a research proposal.


- participate in interactive lectures;
- read, interpret and critically judge literature provided and acquired;
- develop practical skills in molecular techniques with a DNA barcoding practical unveiling the (true) identity of commercially available 'white fish';
- analyse provided data from field studies;
- develop skills in experimental ecology by executing an experiment on stone corals;
- join a excursion to a Building with Nature sites in The Netherlands with a stakeholder meeting; - perform a midterm electronic self-evaluation test (Question Mark Perception) - develop a conceptual BwN design together with 2 fellow students, including physical, ecological, economic, and governance aspects;
- design (individually) a research project and write a short project proposal;
- participate in feedback sessions during peer-reviewing processes;
- present one's own proposal in a 3 minute pitch.
All assessments will be marked out of 10 and to pass the course you must get at least 5.5 on each of the tasks.


- group Building with Nature project report (20%);
- performance in peer review sessions (5%);
- individual research proposal (20%);
- individual pitch of proposal (5%);
- electronic exam (Question Mark Perception) (50%).
All assessments will be marked out of 10 and to pass the course you must get at least 5.5 on each of the tasks. Clearly above or below average practical performance will be used to round of the final mark.


Course guide, handouts & topical publications.

Keuze voor: MASAnimal SciencesMScF: Animal Ecology5MO
MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMScB: Marine Resources and Ecology5MO