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Biologisk oceanografi (Biological Oceanography )



Course format On-site
Date 2021-02-01 - 2021-05-20

General course objectives

Biological oceanography deals with the life in the oceans – the interactions between organisms and their physical and chemical environment. In our course we will focus on the structure and function of marine food webs, and strive to understand how biological processes control the species interactions and their responses to environmental forcing, and how global patterns emerge from these individual interactions. The course offers a mechanistic understanding of the most important biological processes in aquatic systems and their dependency on the environment. We will illustrate different scales of the marine environment, starting at the individual level, and advancing to population, community and global scales of the marine ecosystem. The course will enable the students to appreciate cause-consequence relationships and assess the effects of environmental changes to marine ecosystems and the global ocean.

The course addresses UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘Life below water’, particularly its targets to prevent and reduce marine pollution (14.1) and to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems (14.2).


The course consists of four elements:

  • Ecology of marine organisms and trophic interactions from bacteria and phytoplankton to marine mammals
  • Examples of different approaches to model biological interactions
  • Global-scale trends and processes including anthropogenic disturbances
  • Real-life application of biological oceanography to evaluate the effects of anthropogenic activities for marine ecosystems

The course is divided between three levels of the marine systems: individual, population / ecosystem and global scales. We will start with the individual level, illustrating the effect of encounter rate on food-web interactions. The population / ecosystem level focuses on population dynamics of marine organisms, basic properties of marine environment and environmental forcing. Finally, at the global scale we will concentrate on global trends in ocean productivity, biogeochemical cycling and the environmental challenges facing the changing oceans. The course includes lectures, exercises, model practical and group work.


25301 Introduction to aquatic ecosystems, anthropogenic threats and sustainable solutions

Learning outcomes

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:

  • Describe interactions between functional groups and trophic levels in aquatic environments based on a mechanistic understanding of encounter rates.
  • Describe how individual interactions shape the population and ecosystem level processes and how environmental forcing influences marine systems at both ecosystem and global scales.
  • Quantify rates and interactions in pelagic food webs from individual scale to populations.
  • Appreciate the fundamental challenges that global change pose to ocean biology.
  • Construct simple conceptual food-web and population models within marine environments.
  • Analyze and interpret model observations within the context of the marine food webs.
  • Apply the knowledge of ocean biology to assess the environmental impacts of diverse off-shore or coastal construction projects.
  • Present the results of an environmental impact assessment for a hypothetical project dealing with the marine environment orally and in writing.


ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management
Physical and chemical oceanography