Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 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 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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

FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Biological Sciences
OfferedClayton First semester 2015 (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:

  1. Describe the diversity and ecological importance of marine life;

  1. Explain the fundamental physiochemical and physiological processes underlying the productivity of marine environments;

  1. Explain the ecological dynamics of marine ecosystems;

  1. Discuss the impact of human activity on the sustainability of marine ecosystems;

  1. Demonstrate advanced scientific skills in project design, data collection, analysis and writing.


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

Attendance at one of the two field trips offered for this unit is a mandatory hurdle for this unit.

Workload requirements

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

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


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