Available in 2018

Course handbook


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.

All lectures are recorded and the practical component is completed in the first three weeks of semester.

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.

Availability2018 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2018

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Understand habitats in estuaries and the physical processes that contribute to their formation

2. Understand the important ecological processes that operate in estuaries

3. Understand human and natural impacts on estuary ecosystems and how animals and plants respond and adapt to these impacts

4. Synthesise information about assessments of estuary health and management processes in NSW


The 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 andiii) 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 andiii) 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 andii) 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 estuaries5) Recent and current management issues in various Australian estuaries.

Assumed knowledge

ENVS2004 Ecology MARI2320 Marine Ecology 1

Assessment items

Essay: Essays/Written Assignments

Report: Report

Formal Examination: Examination: Formal

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Field Study: Attendance Requirement - Students must attend a minimum number of these sessions. - This course will include a compulsory 3 day/2 night (Friday to Sunday) field 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.
  • Practical: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course students must complete a compulsory safety induction.

Contact hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 27 hour(s) per Term Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 3 Weeks