The course introduces a selection of key scientific methods for environmental and resource-oriented scientific studies of marine ecosystems, with an emphasis on surface seawater (open waters) studies. Such studies often aim to establish knowledge on the ecological and chemical state of the ecosystem based on measurements of physical, chemical and biological environmental variables. These are requirements set by environmental legislation; the OSPARCOM Convention and other European legislation. The course introduces how such investigations can be conducted and reported. Emphasis is placed on both theoretical knowledge, hands-on experience with methods, compiling results into a report where assessment of environmental sustainability has a focus.
Private and public actors are conducting such surveys today. Their aim can be to assess a site's ability to assimilate biogenic (non-toxic) emissions from human activity (carrying capacity), to determine the environmental footprint of salmon production in a coastal region, or to assess the ecological status of surface water bodies in a fjord/region. The course provides general knowledge of mechanisms relevant to understanding algae blooms, some toxic, in coastal waters and, with that, a basis for early warning of such blooms. General knowledge is important for understanding events on a scientific basis and thereby reducing the use and erosion of the important precautionary principle.
The course includes lectures and two intensive periods of laboratory/field work. In the first period, there is a demonstration and practical implementation of important methods for measuring physical environment, nutrients in the water masses and biomass and the activity of important groups of organisms. This is done through smaller experiments where water samples are taken and analysed. The results are used, together with the theoretical knowledge in the course, to determine the ecological and chemical state of the water bodies in the Trondheim Fjord. An individual report will be prepared based on the results and their interpretation, a report that has the format of a scientific publication. In the second period, other and more advanced measurement methods for marine research, including methods that generate large digitized data sets, will be described and demonstrated in the laboratory or in the sea.
The course will provide a basis for a deeper understanding of methods more briefly treated in BI3061, new MSc course "Enabling technology for marine ecological studies" and BI3067, all courses in the MSOCEAN study program.
A candidate with a completed exam should have the following learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills and competence:
Knowledge is an understanding of theories, facts, concepts, principles and procedures in scientific fields and/or professions. After completing the course, the candidate should have:
- Detailed scientific knowledge of, and "hands-on" experience with, methods for investigating ecological and chemical state of marine ecosystems, including environmental sustainability related to human activity in coastal waters
- Comprehensive knowledge of the scientific and legal basis for environmental and resource-oriented studies of marine ecosystems in marine surface waters and be familiar with how such studies are conducted and reported in a scientific format
- Have a scientific methodological foundation as a basis, and be able to expand this to answer new questions in the field, including questions about the impact and sustainability of the coastal zone benthic ecosystem
- Be familiar with past and recent development of relevant methodology in the subject area, and based on this, be able to analyze new issues related to the marine environment and resources area
Skills are the ability to apply knowledge to solve problems and tasks. After completing the course, the candidate should, based on new knowledge, be able to:
- Based on methodological knowledge, be able to critically evaluate different sources of information on new relevant methods that can be used in the assessments/studies of surface water ecosystem, but also of other ecosystems such as the benthic
- Analyze and evaluate the scientific relevance and suitability of various methods for specific investigations of environmental and resource issues in coastal waters, among these newer digital methods that generate large datasets
- Use new and established methods to independently determine ecological and chemical states as well as potential influences on environmental sustainability in coastal waters affected by human activity
- Participate in research project and under supervision be able to carry out an independent part of the work and report the results in a scientific format
General competence is to be able to apply knowledge and skills independently in different situations in educational and professional contexts by showing collaboration ability, responsibility, ability to reflect and critical thinking. Upon completion of the course, the candidate should, based on his new knowledge and skills, be able to:
- Have an active relationship to relevant issues within the scientific basis of the field and with ethical issues of research, especially aimed to marine environmental issues related to sustainability
- Apply their knowledge and skills to carry out advanced projects and other tasks in their field, including tasks relevant to other marine ecosystems
- Master written and oral scientific rhetorics as a basis for dissemination and other communication
- Communicate academic issues and important conclusions within their methodical subject area with professional experts, colleagues and with the public
- Contribute to new concepts and methodology for mapping the environment and resources in marine sites, with a special focus on future digitized environmental surveying and monitoring
Basic education in biology from a university or similar is recommended. Some prior knowledge of environmental assessment and marine ecology is a clear advantage.