Biological Oceanography

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The course is focused in the baisc concepts of oceanography incluing some from physical, chemical and geological issue in order to achieve a better understanding of the marine organisms and the oceanic environment. The main goal of the course is the understanding of the bio-oceanographic processes in water column and in the atmosphere-ocean and ocean-seabottom interfaces. Learning outcomes are:

1. to know the biological structure of the ocean and its relation to the oceanographic physical and chemical processes

2. To understand the environmental factors and processes that shape and control the abundance and distribution of oceanic organisms in diverse spacial and time scales.

3. To describe the main adaptations of the organisms to the environmental factors of the ocean, and how these are biologically determined

4. To understand the structure and function of biological components of the oceans

5. To be aware of and to use some of the routine techniques used in the study of the oceans.


1. Introduction. Historical and present perspectives.

2. Oceanic environment. Seawater; salinity, sea surface temperature (SST) and density. Dissolved gases. PH. Sound and light. Oceanic data adqusition.

3. Ocean-atmosphere interactions: Winds, Coriolis effect and Ekman spiral. Gires. Upwellings. Termohaline circulation. Regulation of atmospheric CO2 and climatic change. El niño and South pacific Oscilation (ENSO). North Atlantic Oscilation (NAO).

4. The ocean bottom. Submarine relief. Bathymetry. Génesis and evoluttion of oceanic basins: Plat tectonics. Mid- Atlantic Ridge. Sediments: origin, granulometry, chesmistry and distribution. Biogeochemistry: P, S and CH4. Mineral deposits and polymetalic nodules.

5. Primary production. Phytoplancton: diversity and ecology.

6. Secondary production and Decomposition. Zooplâncton: Diversity, herbivory and migrations. Necton: Diversity and ecology. Microbial loop. Microbial diversity and ecological role. Carbon recycling and biological pump.

Teaching Methodologies

The course would taught in 4h weekly sessions. Theorical concepts taught in theorical classes are complemented more interactive and practical classes including field work and computer and lab sessions. Students will be exposed with routine sampling and data acquisition and treatment techniques. Practical classes will often be subject to evaluation by delivering scientific reports, where students should be able to demonstrate the ability to relate the conceptual framework to critically explain and discuss the observed phenomena. These practical work is planned to stimulate scientific curiosity and reasoning and universal work skills as team work. Some working sheets will also be given to the students during practical classes in order to promote selflearning and conceptual consolidation through practical exercises.


Ingmanson, D. E. & W. J. Wallace, 1989. Oceanography. An introduction. pp: 87- 121. Waldsworth Publ. Company, Belmont.

Lalli, CM & TR Parsons 1997 Biological Oceanography, An Introduction, (Second

Edition), Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann Publishing

Miller, CB 2004. Biological Oceanography, Wiley Blackwell Publishing

Pipkin, B., D. Gorsline & R. Casey 2001 Laboratory exercises in Oceanography W.H.Freeman 270pp

Trujillo, A. & H. Thurman, 2005. Essentials of Oceanography. 8th edition. 532p. Pearson Prentice Hall.



ECTS Credits



  • Teórico-Práticas - 60 hours

Evaluation Methodology

  • Frequency: 50%
  • Reports of practical work (in groups): 30%
  • Worksheets: 20%