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Marine Ecosystems



Course format Blended
Datum 2020-09-01 - 2020-10-26
Entry level Bachelor

Course introduction

The aim of the course is to enable the student to identify dominating macrophytes and animal species in marine ecosystems, which is important in regard to evaluate the ecological conditions within and around marine ecosystems in Danish waters.

Two field excursions are planned during the course. The students will first join a scientific cruise on the research vessel Aurora in Aarhus Bight to collect benthic samples and learn about physical-chemical conditions in the water column. In the second excursion, the students will collect benthic samples in the newly flooded coastal area at Gyldensteen Strand.

The course builds on the knowledge acquired in the courses BB547 Ecology A, BB548 Field course in ecology and BB506 Marine and Brackish Water Ecology, and gives an academic basis for MSc thesis projects in marine biology/ecology.

In relation to the competence profile of the degree it is the explicit focus of the course to:

  • Give the competence to evaluate the ecological condition of the ocean based on benthic fauna
  • Give skills to plan, sample and handle biological samples from the ocean
  • Give knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems and factors that control their functioning


The following main topics are contained in the course:

  • The physical environment in the ocean
  • Marine biological sampling techniques
  • Phytoplankton, zooplankton and nekton
  • Phytobenthos and zoobenthos
  • Habitat and succession
  • Ecosystem characteristics


Students taking the course are expected to:

  • Have knowledge of general ecology
  • Be able to use keys to identify marine benthic fauna
  • Be at the level of a Bachelor’s degree in biology or similar

Learning outcomes

The learning objectives of the course are that the student demonstrates the ability to:

  • Identify and describe the characteristics of the most common ecosystems in the world oceans and the dominating marine ecosystems in Danish waters
  • Conduct qualitative and quantitative sampling of marine macrophytes and animals
  • Handle and present flora and fauna data statistically correct
  • Identify marine organisms to phylum, class and family level
  • Discuss how abiotic and biotic factors affect the composition and distribution of living organisms in the ocean
  • Discuss the importance of interactions among marine organisms and the influence from the surrounding environment for the formation and maintenance of marine ecosystems
  • Explain and evaluate human influence on marine ecosystems by the use of relevant environmental indices


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