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BI25F9: MARINE FIELD ECOLOGY (2023-2024)

Last modified: 05 Oct 2023 08:46


Course Overview

This is a marine biological field course to the Millport Field Centre on the Isle of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde. The course introduces you to littoral and nearshore marine life in its natural environment and provides training in methods for sampling, surveying and species identification. You are encouraged to understand the taxonomy and adaptations of marine organisms in an ecological context.

The course typically includes surveying one or more rocky shores and a scientifically renowned sandy shore, sampling plankton and seabed organisms from a small research vessel, and carrying out a group project over two days. Through the various field and laboratory activities and close interaction with course staff, you will deepen your knowledge of marine organisms and their environments, acquire field skills and enhance your abilities in species identification, data collection, analysis, presentation and teamwork.

Dates for 2023–24

24–31 May 2024 (Friday to Friday)

Please note that you will be responsible for arranging and paying for your return journey to the ferry terminal in Largs, North Ayrshire, where the class will assemble prior to taking the ferry onto the Isle of Cumbrae. There are good transport links to Largs by road and rail. Detailed guidance on travel options will be provided in advance of the course.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Dr Philip Smith
  • Professor Ursula Witte

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • One of Biology (BI) or Ecology (EK) or Environmental Sciences (EV) or Plant Science (PL) or Zoology (ZO)
  • Either Programme Level 2 or Programme Level 3

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

Are there a limited number of places available?

No

Course Description

This field course will be held based at the Millport Field Centre on the Isle of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde. The centre, run by the Field Studies Council, is located on an island which is a ten-minute ferry crossing from the mainland terminal at Largs. The island has a variety of types of coastal habitat within easy reach of the field centre and the biota is correspondingly varied. Being within the semi-enclosed waters of the Firth of Clyde the habitats are comparatively sheltered and safe.

The Field Centre provides modern accommodation and classrooms for lectures/seminars and labwork to process field samples. The centre also has a small research vessel, which provides an opportunity for you to experience marine biological sampling at sea, and to see oceanographic and navigational instruments typical of a modern inshore research and survey vessel.

There is a long history of marine biological research and teaching at Millport (a marine station was first established there in 1885). You will follow in the footsteps of generations of biologists in learning about coastal organisms and habitats, and the methods used to study them in the field.

Details of the course content may vary according to the weather, tides and other factors, but it is expected that the course will include surveying at least one rocky shore and a scientifically renowned sandy shore, sampling seabed organisms and plankton from a research vessel, and a group project carried out over two days. Most activities involve follow-up work in a laboratory classroom.

You will keep a field notebook as a record of your work, and on the last evening of the course, contribute to a group presentation on your mini-project. Feedback is provided on both of these.

Course aims

The course has the following main aims:

  • to introduce you to quantitative and qualitative methods of investigating the biota and habitat characteristics of littoral (shore) and sublittoral (nearshore, continuously submerged) marine habitats;
  • to expose you to a broad range of marine taxa, especially invertebrates, but including vertebrates and algae, sampled from their natural habitats;
  • to consider adaptations to environment, systematic relationships and, where appropriate, economic or conservation significance of littoral and sublittoral marine organisms;
  • to acquire skills in sampling methods, species identification, data handling and presentation of field investigations;
  • to develop skills in teamwork, oral presentation, and critical appraisal in the context of group project work.

Teaching pattern

An important general principle is that marine biological fieldwork is expensive and may be disrupted unexpectedly by adverse weather or logistical problems, so it is important to make the most of the time available. Fieldwork commonly therefore involves short periods of intense activity, long hours and a willingness to be adaptable when circumstances necessitate a change in plans. With this in mind, the teaching pattern will be flexible depending on the timing of low tide and other factors. Typically, there will be fieldwork early in the morning followed by a break, then sample and data processing in the laboratory. Work usually needs to continue into the evening to complete sample processing, to collate and review the results of a survey, to carry out more fieldwork, or to write up your field notebook. There will be briefings about field exercises and seminars to review survey results, but there will be no formal lectures. There will also be time to rest and socialise.

Associated Costs

DescriptionValue
Associated cost. GBP 350.00

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers


Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 30 August 2024 for 1st half-session courses and 20 December 2024 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Oral Presentation: Group

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 30
Assessment Weeks 42,43,44 Feedback Weeks

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Informal verbal feedback will be provided on the day, written group feedback will be provided through the VLE

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseGive an account of the main components of phyto- and zooplankton present in the local area at the time of the field course;
ProceduralAnalyseAnalyse and present marine field data
ProceduralApplyUse keys to identify and classify the common species found on rocky and sandy shores and the sea bed in the local area of the field course;
ProceduralApplyDescribe and safely execute appropriate sampling methods for the biota of rocky shores, sandy shores and nearshore seabed;

Field Trip Log

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 70
Assessment Weeks 44 Feedback Weeks 47

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Written or recorded feedback will be provided via MyAberdeen on return to Aberdeen.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualEvaluateDiscuss the factors affecting zonation of littoral organisms;
ProceduralApplyUse keys to identify and classify the common species found on rocky and sandy shores and the sea bed in the local area of the field course;

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandDescribe the adaptations and ecological role of representative species and understand the main factors influencing their distribution;
ReflectionCreateInteract with others in the execution of team-based fieldwork
ProceduralAnalyseAnalyse and present marine field data
ProceduralApplyUse keys to identify and classify the common species found on rocky and sandy shores and the sea bed in the local area of the field course;
ConceptualAnalyseGive an account of the main components of phyto- and zooplankton present in the local area at the time of the field course;
ConceptualEvaluateDiscuss the factors affecting zonation of littoral organisms;
ProceduralApplyProduce accurate, annotated drawings of marine organisms;
ProceduralApplyDescribe and safely execute appropriate sampling methods for the biota of rocky shores, sandy shores and nearshore seabed;

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