Faculty of Science

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Science
OfferedClayton First semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Professor John Beardall


This unit investigates the organisms and the processes that drive marine ecosystems. We deal with the trophic structure of marine ecosystems, including primary and secondary production, microbial loops, food webs and their importance for marine fisheries. The implications of the characteristic life cycles of marine organisms to their geographical distribution are also considered. These topics are placed in the context of specific marine ecosystems including coastal habitats, coral reefs, open oceans, the deep sea and polar ecosystems. The practical component comprises a field trip (fee payable) either to Heron Island in December or the Queenscliff Marine Station in February where students work in small groups on specific aspects of marine biology.


On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • describe the diversity and ecological importance of marine life;
  • explain the fundamental physiochemical and physiological processes underlying the productivity of marine environments;
  • describe the ecological dynamics of marine ecosystems;
  • discuss the impact of human activity on the sustainability of marine ecosystems;
  • critically review some of the important current trends in marine biology;
  • employ a critical, analytical approach to scientific research;
  • demonstrate skills in writing scientific reports and in oral communication of scientific information.


Examination (2.5 hours): 50%
Practical work/field work/project work: 40%
Miniquizzes: 10%

Chief examiner(s)

Professor John Beardall

Contact hours

Two 1-hour lectures, equivalent of 3 hours laboratory/field work per week


12 points from level two BIO units including either BIO2181 or BIO2231