EZO-51306 Marine Life


Studiepunten 6.00

Field practical28
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. BJA Pollux
Lecturer(s)dr. BJA Pollux
dr. ing. NCA de Ruijter
Examiner(s)dr. ing. NCA de Ruijter
dr. BJA Pollux

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

ZSS06100 Laboratory Safety and ZSS06200 Fieldwork Safety

Assumed knowledge on:

High School Biology.

Continuation courses:

EZO-31306 Vertebrate Structure & Function, EZO-30806 Functional Zoology, Structure & Physiology of Plants, Development and Reproduction of Plants.


Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with EZO-20306 Biology of Invertebrates, Algae and Fungi.

How have lower plants and animals adapted in structure, functioning and behavior to survive and reproduce in a wide spectrum of biotic and abiotic 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 bound to organismal adaptations in their autecological setting. Such knowledge is important in advising those actors managing components of the marine resource community towards a balanced sustainable use, meanwhile conserving the ecosystem as a whole. Following lectures, dissection and IT-supported practicals, all questions are finally integrated in a field course in the inter tidal marine area (in Wimereux, France) exploring the adaptations and constraints of plant and animal life and their interactions in a community. Field observations in a wide array of habitats and laboratory studies are reported orally and by written reports.
Important notes concerning the field course in Wimereux (France): Please be advised that a financial contribution of 85 euro is asked from the participants. Furthermore, please be advised that the field course partly falls in one of the weekends (i.e. on a Saturday).

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- recognize the wide diversity of lower plants and animals, each with its own characteristics, in the 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 IT practicals (12 IT) including self-tests. During the field course (32 hrs), which is hosted at la Station de Biologie Marine in Wimereux (Northern France), 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. 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 final mark is based on a weighted average of theoretical examination, practicals and field course.


Required: Reader 'Marine Life' (will be for sale on first day of the course). Recommended: Hickman et al., Integrated Principles of Zoology, McGraw-Hill (most recent edition) and Castro & Huber, Marine Biology, McGraw-Hill (most recent edition). Provided (for free): Lecture handouts (will be made available in Brightspace) and Field Guide & Notebook (will be handed out prior to field excursion).

Keuze voor: WUMLRBSc Minor Marine Living Resources6WD