Module OSX-3019:
Fish Biology and Ecology

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Ian McCarthy

Overall aims and purpose

Fishes are the most diverse vertebrate taxa on Earth and the majority of fishes belong to the Teleostii (bony fishes). This module will examine the evolutionary history, taxonomic diversity and ecology of teleost fishes. Particular consideration will be given to zoogeography and evolutionary ecology of teleost fishes, the variety of life cycles observed, population dynamics, behavioural ecology and conservation strategies. Current research relating to various anthropogenic impacts such as habitat destruction, climate change, fisheries-induced evolution, ecosystem shifts, pollutants and invasive fish species will also be presented and discussed.

Course content

This module will provide a detailed introduction to the evolution, taxonomy and diversity of teleost fishes, a summary of the variation in life cycles, population dynamics and ecology and a review of the anthropogenic threats facing this diverse and widely distributed vertebrate group. The course will contain the following topics:

• The evolution and diversity of teleost fishes will be reviewed and placed within the broader context of fish evolution.

• The evolutionary ecology of fishes will be described including the use of fish species as models for speciation.

• The adaptive radiation and zoogeography of teleosts will be reviewed covering freshwater and marine distributions as well as the distribution and adaptations to more extreme environments such as intertidal, polar, deep sea, cave and arid habitats.

• The lifecycles and population dynamics of teleost fishes will be reviewed. Particular focus will be place on the larval phase as the critical phase in the life cycle for most teleost fishes and the variability in life cycles and life history strategies observed amongst teleost fishes will be reviewed. Fish population dynamics will be reviewed including summaries of how patterns of population structure, growth, mortality and maturity are described. The models used to describe the dynamics of fish populations (including fisheries management models) will be described.

• Community ecology of freshwater and marine fishes will be described including feeding guilds and trophic dynamics.

• The behavioural ecology of teleost fishes will be summarised to provide a summary of how fishes interact with each other and with their environment.

• The conservation ecology of teleost fishes will be reviewed with particular focus on extinction and biodiversity threats and the approaches adopted to conserve and restore threatened fishes.

• The anthropogenic impacts on teleost fishes will be summarised including exploitation impacts (ecosystem shifts and fisheries-induced evolution) and environmental impacts (pollutants, invasive fish species, habitat destruction and climate change)

Assessment Criteria

excellent

The students should demonstrate comprehensive factual knowledge, critical understanding of theory, evidence of extensive extra reading of primary literature and the ability to integrate this extra knowledge in a relevant manner thus demonstrating a clear and detailed understanding of the evolution and distribution of teleost fishes, their ecology and the anthropogenic threats faced by this taxa. The students should have demonstrated excellent numerical analysis skills and the ability to present their data in a clear and concise manner, and to show evidence of extensive extra reading from primary sources, discussing their own data in a wholly justified manner to high scientific standards. The “info-sheet” will clearly and concisely convey a comprehensive summary of the impacts of a named anthropogenic threat on teleost fishes and should be of a standard that would be good enough to be published and used for public education by agencies such as Wildlife Trusts or other Conservation NGOS, Cefas or Fisheries authorities.

threshold

The students should be able to express a basic factual knowledge of at least some part of the core material presented in the module, and be able to show some level of understanding of the evolution and distribution of teleost fishes, their ecology and the anthropogenic threats faced by this taxa. The students should have demonstrated a basic ability to analyse and present data on fish population dynamics and to provide/present information on the impacts of a named anthropogenic threat on teleost fishes in a format suitable for public education / outreach.

good

The students should be able to express a thorough factual knowledge of much of the core material presented in the module, and have a competent and detailed understanding of the evolution and distribution of teleost fishes, their ecology and the anthropogenic threats faced by this taxa. Some evidence of further reading and ability to integrate material from the full range of the lecture content will be shown. The students should have demonstrated good numerical analysis skills and the ability to analyse and present fish population dynamics data in a clear and concise manner, and to show a good level of additional reading; using a wide range of literature to make sensible inferences about the data. The students should have demonstrated good communication skills in producing a clear, concise and informative public education / outreach ‘info-sheet’ on the impacts of a named anthropogenic threat on teleost fishes.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an ability to summarise clearly and concisely the key facts about the impacts of a named anthropogenic threat on teleost fishes and to communicate this information in a manner suitable for engaging with the general public

  2. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the population dynamics of teleost fishes and the ability to analyse and present population dynamics data

  3. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the essential facts, major concepts, principles and theories associated with teleost evolution, diversity and ecology

  4. Demonstrate an appreciation of the various anthropogenic threats faced by teleost fishes and the potential impacts of these threats

  5. Understand and explain the evolutionary history and zoogeography of teleost fishes and the diverse ecology of the taxa

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Fish population dynamics 25
Fish info factsheet 15
Exam 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Workshop

1 x 4 hour workshop

4
Lecture

2 x 1 hour lectures per week

20
Private study

170 hours of private study

170
Laboratory

1 x 6 hour computer practical

6

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.

Subject specific skills

  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  1. Cognitive (Thinking\Intellectual): Subject knowledge and understanding (Benchmark 3.2)

  2. Cognitive (Thinking\Intellectual): Intellectual skills (Benchmark 3.6 and 3.7)

  3. Cognitive (Thinking\Intellectual): Communication, information technology and research skills (Benchmark 3.8)

  4. Cognitive (Thinking\Intellectual): Mathematical modelling (Benchmark 3.7)

  5. Cognitive (Thinking\Intellectual): Self-management and professional development skills (Benchmark 3.10)

Resources

Reading list

Helfmann – Diversity of fishes 2nd edition. Available as e-book through library

Bond – Biology of fishes 3rd edition, available as ebook through library

King – Fisheries Biology, Assessment and Management. Available as ebook through library

Plus lecture-specific references provided by teaching staff on Blackboard

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: