NBIK14002U Ecophysiology of Brackish Water Invertebrates
MSc Programme in Biology
The course focuses on the physiological adaptations needed in
primarily benthic invertebrates allowing them to survive in
brackish water areas. The inner Danish waters together with the
Baltic Sea are the largest brackish water area (estuary) in the
world. The estuary is characterized by large and rapid fluctuations
of environmental parameters (e.g., temperature, salinity, oxygen
and hydrogen sulfide). In the oceans, no severe physiological
stress occurs because the environmental parameters are more or less
constant. In estuaries, however, the fauna has to cope with a
highly fluctuating environment in order to survive. This is
achieved by presence of special physiological adaptations providing
the animals with a physiological plasticity. The course focuses on
these adaptations and gives a comprehensive understanding of the
overall physiological challenge experienced by animals inhabiting
brackish water habitats. The course will address topics such as
aerobic and anaerobic respiration, oxygen depletion, sulfide
toxticity, osmo-, ion- and volume regulation and how these
physiological processes give the benthic fauna an increased
tolerance to cope with the integrated effect of environmental
fluctuations in time and space. The topic will be addressed in a
series of lectures and by independently experimental research
projects (7 weeks) made by the students working in groups. Based on
the conducted research project each group writes a research project
The student will be able to handle some standard equipment for physiological research (e.g. fiber optic oxygen meter, fluorometer and electronic particle counter), and use experimental methods. The student can analyze and explain experimental results and put them into a scientific context.
By attending the course the student will achieve:
The student can describe and reflect on how brackish water environments affect animals and how they physiologically cope with this very fluctuating environment. The student will be able to identify physiological processes and place them in a comprehensive overview.
The student will be able to handle some standard equipment for physiological research and use experimental methods. The student can perform standard statistical analysis and explain experimental results and put them into a scientific context.
The student has experience working independently with an experimental research project. The student can from theory design, initiate and manage an experimental study. The student can evaluate and put obtained results into a scientific perspective. The student has gained experience working in groups to solve scientific problems and to write a research report.
- Project work
- Theory exercises
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Oral examination, 30 minutesWritten assignmentWritten research project during the course.
30-minute oral defense of the written research project and course syllabus.
The grade is given on basis of an overall evaluation of the written report and the oral defence.
The part-exams must be passed in the same exam-period.
- Without aids
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
Several internal examinors
As ordinary exam.
The written report can be revised before the re-exam.
Criteria for exam assesment
The student must be able to explain how brackish water environments affect animals and how they physiologically cope with this very fluctuating environment and relate this knowledge to the experimental research project made during the course. The student can demonstrate experience in experimental design, result analysis associated with the performed experimental project. The student must be thoroughly conversant with the literature associated to the report handed in and all written material handed out during the course.
The grade 12 is given for an oral exam if the student is able to:
- Relate the research report results to the theories on the effects of brackish water environments on animal physiology
- Discuss methods and materials used to gather scientific data within the experimental research project
- Read and interpret scientific results and evaluate the scientific statements, including the use to statistical analytic tools
- Discuss the results of the research project as reported in the research report and to put them into the correct scientific context
- Suggest future laboratory experiments or field studies to further address the topic of the conducted research project