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Marine Ecosystems Management

Course Code: BIOL 4300
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar, Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

In this course, marine environments, from the tropics to polar regions, will be studied as integrated systems, exploring interconnections between the physical environment, biodiversity, and the impacts of human activity and resource use. This integrated approach will inform an understanding of ecosystem goods and services required for the protection and management of marine systems. The course will examine the knowledge and skills needed to interpret multidisciplinary system data, providing a whole ecosystem approach to the management and sustainable use of marine resources.

Course Content

1) Review of Marine Environmental Science and Oceanography

  • Geological oceanography
  • Oceanic and coastal regions

  • Water movements: waves and tides

  • Sea level changes

  • Ocean chemistry

2) Review of Marine Biology, Ecology, and Conservation

  • Biodiversity and classification of marine organisms
  • Marine ecology and conservation concepts

3) Intertidal and Coastal Ecosystems

  • Dune and beach ecosystems
  • Intertidal mudflats

  • The rocky intertidal zone

  • Global climate change and intertidal ecosystems

4) Estuaries and Marshes: Habitat Impacts and Environmental Protection

  • Estuaries
  • Salt marshes

  • Mangroves

  • Global climate change and marsh ecosystems

5) Tropical Coral Reefs: Environmental Impacts and Recovery

  • Tropical coral reefs
  • Reef community interactions

  • Environmental impacts on corals

  • Harvest impacts

  • Development and tourism impacts

  • Approaches to coral reef conservation

6) Nearshore Ecosystems: Community Ecology and Habitat Protection

  • Soft bottom ecosystems
  • Seagrass ecosystems

  • Rocky bottom ecosystems

  • Kelp ecosystems

  • Climate change and nearshore ecosystems

7) Open Ocean: Anthropogenic Inputs and Environmental Impacts

  • The photic zone
  • Open ocean pollution

  • Climate change and the ocean pelagic zone

8) Seafloor and Deep Sea: Resource Harvest and Habitat Protection

  • Continental shelf and slope ecosystems
  • Seamount ecosystems

  • Deep Sea ecosystems

  • Impacts of deep sea fisheries

  • Habitat impacts on the deep seafloor

  • Deep sea conservation measures

9) Marine Endangered Species: Conservation, Protection, and Recovery

  • Legal protection
  • Endangered species case histories

  • Future prospects for endangered species conservation

10) Conservation of Cetaceans

  • Legal protections of cetaceans
  • Cetacean harvest

  • Unintended anthropogenic harm to cetaceans

  • Captive cetaceans and animal rights

11) Marine Fisheries: Overharvest and Conservation

  • Fisheries characterization
  • Fisheries harvest methods

  • Marine fisheries overharvest

  • Managing fisheries for sustainability

  • Conservation of fishery populations

  • Climate change and fisheries

12) Ocean Conservation Laws, Agreements, and Organizations

  • Tragedy of the commons and marine resources
  • Marine conservation laws and agreements

  • Marine environmental and conservation organizations

  • The future of the ocean commons

Methods of Instruction

Instruction will be a combination of lecture and seminar delivery with supporting group work and critical thinking exercises.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Evaluation Marks
Case study report 10-20
Group presentation 10-20
Assignments 10-20
Midterm examination         20-30
Final examination 30-40

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this course, the successful student will be able to: 

  • explain major concepts in marine environmental science, oceanography, ecology, and conservation;

  • describe the unique challenges and problems associated with applying management and conservation methods to marine ecosystems;

  • explain the physical and biological characteristics of the major marine ecosystems;

  • critically assess human impacts on the major marine ecosystems;

  • explain the issues surrounding the management and conservation of marine species in British Columbia;

  • describe and assess the current state of ocean conservation laws, agreements, and organizations.

course prerequisites

BIOL 2300 and BIOL 3305



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.