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Life of Fishes



Course format On-site

Course introduction

The aim of this course is to provide a summer-course version of the existing BB542 course. It will give the student an introductory overview of the life histories, ecology and management of fishes in marine and freshwater environments, along with some consideration of how population ecology data is being applied to the current management of Danish species. The course will complement other courses in zoology and ecology that include some information on fish but without an extensive focus.

The course can be taken without any expected prerequisites, and gives an academic basis for studying other aquatic biology or ecology oriented topics which may form part of the Bachelor of Science or a subsequent Master-level degree. It is, however, recommended that students have a prior or concurrent enrolment in BB510 (Ecology) and BB525 (Zoology and evolution), or their equivalents at other universities.

In relation to the competence profile of the degree it is the explicit focus of the course to train students to:

  • Establish an introductory understanding of the evolutionary history, diversity, life history, and population biology and ecology of freshwater and marine fishes;
  • Understand the interplay between native and introduced fishes and their environments;
  • Understand how to use a range of research methods in studies of marine and freshwater fishes;
  • Formulate simple sampling designs;
  • Conduct field and laboratory studies to examine the population ecology of selected species;
  • Carry out qualitative and quantitative measurements on populations of selected animals; and
  • Present and evaluate own data, and write a report.


The following main topics are contained in the course:

  • Evolutionary history and diversity of modern-day fishes
  • Fish community structures
  • Life history modes and life cycles
  • The egg and larval life cycle phases
  • Population replenishment
  • Juvenile and adult life cycle phases
  • How fishes use different habitats
  • Anthropogenic and natural environmental impacts on fish
  • Influence of fishes on their environment
  • Impacts of invasive fishes
  • Research methods, in the field and laboratory
  • Application of ecological data to the management of freshwater and marine species


Students taking the course are expected to have: basic-level light microscopy skills, and to be able to use Microsoft Excel and Word, and Blackboard. 

Learning outcomes

The learning objectives of the course is that the student demonstrates the ability to:

  • Understand the evolutionary context and diversity of modern-day fishes;
  • Describe a range of life history modes in marine and freshwater fishes;
  • Discriminate between different parts of fish life cycles, and the processes regulating community structure and abundances in each;
  • Understand ways in which fishes influence their own environment;
  • Understand the impacts of invasive pest fishes;
  • Carry out qualitative and quantitative measurements on populations of selected estuarine fishes;
  • Design sampling programs to investigate anthropogenic or natural environmental impacts on fishes; and
  • Collect and process their own fish field data, present and evaluate these, and produce a scientific report.


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