University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Topics in Marine Biology

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit is a follow-up to BIO1100 and provides participants with concepts of marine biology and the Mediterranean marine environment at a higher level. The topics covered include:

- Physical and biological aspects of the marine environment: physico-chemical and biological characteristics of the water column and seabed, and pelagic and benthic habitats and ecosystems.
- Topics in Mediterranean marine biology: main physico-chemical and biological characteristics of the Mediterranean marine environment.
- Marine vegetation: main characteristics of marine algae and plants, their diversity and ecological roles.
- Human influence on the marine environment: release of materials and energy which may compromise the life-support systems of the marine environment (pollution), and other factors such as exploitation and mismanagement of marine resources and of biodiversity.
- Aquaculture: EU aquaculture Policy, aquaculture in Malta, environmental parameters affecting aquaculture production, and management aspects of aquaculture production.
- Fisheries biology: historical evolution of fisheries (gears, target species, fishing effort), introduction to fisheries science (why manage fisheries, patterns of exploitation), the stock concept, methods of stock identification, principles of stock dynamics (growth, reproduction, recruitment, mortality migration), environmental impacts of fisheries, by-catch & discards, and fisheries management and conservation options.
- Topics in marine conservation biology; including in-situ and ex-situ conservation research strategies applied to marine species and habitats conservation management in the Mediterranean and the Maltese islands.

This study-unit is open to university students other than those reading biology for a bachelor’s degree and to non-university participants who demonstrate that they can benefit from the study-unit and who will be registered as auditors.

Study-unit Aims:

This unit is mainly aimed at providing participants with knowledge of aspects of:

1. The marine environment, in terms of physico-chemical and biological features of marine ecosystems;
2. Main physical and biological characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea;
3. Basic aspects of marine vegetation diversity and ecology;
4. Human influence on the marine environment;
5. Aquaculture;
6. Fisheries biology;
7. Marine conservation biology.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. Appreciate the complexity of marine ecosystems;
2. Appreciate and identify the diversity and ecological roles of Mediterranean marine flora and fauna;
3. Appreciate and identify aspects of Mediterranean marine habitats;
4. Acknowledge the various interactions between humans and the marine environment, and the implications of direct and indirect anthropogenic influences;
5. Appreciate and identify the main principles underlying aquaculture and its contributions and benefits to society, as well as interaction with the environment;
6. Appreciate and identify the main principles underlying fisheries and their contributions and benefits to society, and how they are managed;
7. Acknowledge and identify measures used to apply principles of conservation biology to environmental management and protection;
8. Contribute to the design of basic marine biological surveys and undertake basic field studies and laboratory work to collect, process and interpret marine biological data;
9. Use taxonomic keys and laboratory tools for the identification of species;
10. Communicate scientific information in the form of scientific reports.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. Apply knowledge of marine ecosystems to understand the links between living and non-living components of the marine environment, and between marine and terrestrial ecosystems;
2. Distinguish the roles of Mediterranean flora and fauna in the marine ecosystem;
3. Apply knowledge of anthropogenic influences on the marine environment to understand their short and long term implications for marine natural resources;
4. Apply knowledge of aquaculture and fisheries to understand the importance of these activities for society, their influence on the marine environment, and how they may be affected by natural and anthropogenic factors;
5. Apply knowledge of marine conservation biology to understand the importance and use of environmental management and protection, and legislative tools;
6. Use guides and keys to identify marine species;
7. Apply knowledge to undertake basic field studies and laboratory work;
8. Apply knowledge to collect, process and interpret basic marine biological data;
9. Use taxonomic keys and laboratory tools for the identification of species;
10. Communicate information on aspects of marine biology.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

• CASTRO P. & HUBER, M. E. Marine biology. McGraw-Hill.
• MOJETTA A. Mediterranean Sea: guide to the underwater life. Swan Hill Press.
• MORRISSEY J. F. & SUMICH J. L. Biology of marine life. Jones & Bartlett.
• NORSE E. A & CROWDER L. B. Marine Conservation Biology: the science of maintaining the sea's biodiversity. Island Press.
• AXIAK V., GAUCI V., MALLIA A., MALLIA E., SCHEMBRI P. J., SCHEMBRI A., & VELLA A. J. (1999). State of the Environment Report for Malta 1998, Ministry for the Environment, Malta.
• AXIAK V., GAUCI V., MALLIA A., MALLIA E., SCHEMBRI P. J., SCHEMBRI A., VELLA A. J. & VELLA L. (2002). State of the environment report for Malta 2002, Ministry for Home Affairs and the Environment, Malta.
• BIANCHI C. N. (2007). Biodiversity issues for the forthcoming tropical Mediterranean Sea. Hydrobiologia 580: 7-21.
• BIANCHI C. N. & Morri C. (2000). Marine biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: situation, problems and prospects for future research. Marine Pollution Bulletin 40(5): 367-376.
• COLL M., PIRODDI C., STEENBACK J., KASCHNER K., BE RAIS LASRAM F., et al. 2010 The Biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: Estimates, Patterns, and Threats. PLoS ONE 5(8): e11842. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011842.
• GRANT GROSS M. Oceanography: a view of the earth. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
• HILBORN R. & HILBORN U. (2012). Overfishing: What everyone needs to know. Oxford University Press, 168 pp.
• JENNINGS S., KAISER M.J., REYNOLDS J.D. (2001). Marine Fisheries Ecology. Blackwell Science, 432 pp.
• KING M. (2007). Fisheries Biology, Assessment and Management. Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd Edition edition.
• LUCAS, J.S. & Southgate, P.C. (2012) Aquaculture: Farming Aquatic Animals
and Plants. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
• MALTA ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING AUTHORITY (2005). State of the environment report 2005.
• MALTA ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING AUTHORITY (2008). The environment report 2008.
• NIKIFOROS G. Fauna del Mediterraneo. Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, Firenze. [In Italian; ISBN 88-09-0208].
• PILLAY, T. V. R. & KUTTY M. N. Aquaculture: Principles and Practice. Blackwell Publishing.
• RIEDL, R. Fauna e flora del Mediterraneo. Franco Muzzio Editore [In Italian; ISBN 88 7021 573 3].

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite: BIO1100 or Biology at Intermediate Level.

This study-unit is not offered to students registered with the Biology Department.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Fieldwork and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Victor Axiak
Joseph A. Borg
Simeon Deguara
Julian Evans (Co-ord.)
Leyla Knittweis
Sandro Lanfranco
Patrick J. Schembri
Adriana Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
MSc (Research) and PhD application deadlines
Application Deadlines for Academic Year 2017/18 
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