Estuarine Ecology

Course code MARI3300Units 10Level 3000Faculty of Science and Information TechnologySchool of Environmental and Life Sciences

Provides an examination of the key elements and complex processes (physical, biogeochemical and biological) that shape and influence estuarine ecology. The course will explore the highly dynamic nature of estuaries through study of a wide variety of estuarine systems, including coastal lagoons, coastal embayments and river estuaries. Students will examine the effects of catchment development on nutrient and sediment loads and the consequences for biological production and biodiversity. The course will also address issues of estuarine functioning, appropriate estuarine monitoring programs and the use of key indicators as a measure of estuarine health.

This course has a compulsory field trip component. Details and costs will be advised in the course outline and on the course Blackboard site prior to the start of the semester.

In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory Workplace Health and Safety requirement. Students will receive full information on this compulsory course component in the course outline provided by the school.

Available in 2014

OurimbahSemester 2
Previously offered in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004
ObjectivesThis course will take the general principles examined in BIOL2070 Ecology and MARI2320 Marine Ecology 1 and apply them to coastal estuaries. The student will gain an understanding of the key processes operating within the estuarine system which will be largely focused on practical examples from the local area. Specifically the learning objectives for this course are:

1. Knowledge about habitats in estuaries and the physical processes that contribute to their formation
2. Knowledge about the important ecological processes that operate in estuaries
3. Knowledge about the human and natural impacts on estuary ecosystems and how animals and plants respond and adapt to these impacts
4. Capacity to synthesize information about assessments of estuary health and management processes in NSW
ContentThe following topics are appropriate:
1) Basic physical/chemical nature, origin and formation of estuaries.
a) The focus will be on the 3 main types of estuaries that are found in Australia.
i) Drowned river valleys,
ii) Barrier estuaries and
iii) Coastal lagoons.
b) Physical and chemical factors of importance to the estuarine environment will include;
i) hydrology and flushing characteristics,
ii) salinity and water quality and
iii) sedimentation and biochemistry.

2) Major habitat types found within estuaries.
a) Examples from the local area will be used to demonstrate key processes operating within each habitat.
b) These habitats will include;
i) shallow subtidal and intertidal mud and sandflats and
ii) the assemblages of organisms that comprise each habitat.

3) The ecological processes occurring within estuaries and the role of nutrient cycling, productivity, trophodynamics and energy flows.

4) The patterns of spatial and temporal variability in the abundance of estuarine organisms in relation to estuary processes.
a) the mechanisms by which organisms manage to cope with the stresses of living in an estuary.
b) The effects of human activities or anthropogenic disturbance on the ecology of estuaries

5) Recent and current management issues in various Australian estuaries.
Replacing Course(s)NA
Industrial Experience0
Assumed KnowledgeBIOL2070 Ecology
MARI2320 Marine Ecology 1
Modes of DeliveryInternal Mode
Teaching MethodsField Study
Assessment Items
Essays / Written Assignments
Examination: Formal
Contact HoursField Study: for 27 hour(s) per Term for Full Term
Lecture: for 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
Practical: for 3 hour(s) per Week for 2 weeks
Compulsory Components
Compulsory Course ComponentWHS-Safety Induction or Risk Assessment. Compulsory Course Component: In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory safety induction.
Compulsory Course ComponentThis course will include a compulsory 3 day/2 night(Friday to Sunday) field camp that will usually occur in August. The field camp supports all of the course learning objectives. Students will be expected to pay a non-refundable fee of $ 150.00 to $ 200.00 for this filed camp. Students will only be permitted to miss the field camp in cases of documented adverse circumstances. Due to the need to book accommodation, arrange staffing and field sampling equipment it will not be possible to reschedule the camp for those students. In these cases students will be expected to conduct a more extensive literature review and develop an expanded methods section and discussion for the written report in lieu of participating in the field camp.
Timetables2014 Course Timetables for MARI3300