About 70% of the planet's surface consists of estuarine, coastal, and pelagic ocean environments. Students who choose the Concentration in Marine Biology will learn about the biology, evolution and ecology of organisms that inhabit these environments and the ecological processes linking them. Marine biology draws from a range of disciplines including organismal biolog marine microbiology, ocean biogeochemistry, and biological oceanography. These disciplines consider adaptation of marine organisms to their environment, their interactions with other organisms, and ultimately the consequences and feedbacks of these interactions upon the environment. Marine habitats are sensitive barometers to anthropogenic perturbations today and global climatic perturbations over evolutionary history.
Students will take an introductory class related to the marine environment as a foundation for further courses in marine biology and ecology. Next, students will choose courses from Group A that provide foundations in marine biology, including an appreciation for the diversity of marine organisms, their anatomy and physiology, their ecological interactions, evolution, and adaptations to the marine environment. Secondly, students will choose courses from Group B that provide advanced knowledge of biological and ecological dynamics of marine ecosystems, biogeochemistry, and current threats and problems related to marine organisms (e.g., climate change). Students are required to take a total of 15 credits, consisting of one introductory course and 12 credits combined from Groups A and B, with at least one course from each group.
Fieldwork is a central part of marine biology education, and most marine biologists are actively engaged in field research. Hence, a significant field component is required for the marine biology concentration. This requirement may be fulfilled by courses at Shoals Marine Laboratory; field courses through the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Cornell-accredited courses with the Sea Education Association; or approved independent study (e.g., BIOG 4990), volunteer work, or internships involving a marine field work component with faculty at Cornell or elsewhere with approval (e.g., during winter or spring breaks, weekends during semester, etc.). The Marine Biology Director of Undergraduate Studies must approve the field component.
Students graduating with the Marine Biology Concentration will find careers in areas including but not limited to: graduate studies in marine biology, fisheries and oceanography leading to positions in academic institutions, museums, aquariums and government agencies; aquaculture and marine resources management; natural products chemistry and pharmaceuticals; environmental or maritime law; and veterinary science.
Learning Objectives of the Concentration in Marine Biology
- Understand the diversity of marine organisms, their evolutionary history, biogeography, interactions with other organisms, and adaptations to their environments.
- Be able to form hypotheses about marine-related scientific questions and design and execute experiments to test those hypotheses.
- Be able to synthesize knowledge of physical and chemical processes of oceans and the biology of organisms to ask questions about natural history and ecology.
- Have an appreciation for the impact of habitat perturbation on marine organisms, and subsequent ecosystem-level consequences and feedbacks.
We will assess learning outcomes through student surveys, in-class discussions, and examinations in consultation with the Directors of Undergraduate Studies for other concentrations.
Courses for the Concentration in Marine Biology
Students are required to take a total of 15 credits, consisting of one introductory course and 12 credits combined from Groups A and B, with at least one course from each group. BIOSM 1610 may also count as Group A course if BIOEE 1540 is taken as an introductory course. Courses that fulfill the field requirement have an asterisk (*). Note: All courses with SEA prefix are offered off-campus or on board a vessel at sea.
- BIOEE 1540 - Introductory Oceanography (crosslisted) (3 cr)
- BIOEE 1560 - Introductory Oceanography with Laboratory (crosslisted) (4 cr)
- BIOSM 1500 - Investigative Marine Biology Laboratory (2 cr)
- BIOSM 1610 - Ecology and the Marine Environment (3 cr)
- SEA 3660 - Introduction to Oceanography (3 cr)
Group A - Organismal Biology and Foundations
- BIOMI 3500 - Biological Oceanography and Ocean Biogeochemistry (crosslisted) (3 cr)
- EAS 3555 - Biological Oceanography and Ocean Biogeochemistry (crosslisted) (3 cr)
- BIOSM 3210 - Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates (3 cr)
- BIOEE 2740 - The Vertebrates: Structure, Function, and Evolution (4 cr)
- BIOSM 2740 - [The Vertebrates: Structure, Function, and Evolution] (4 cr)
- BIOEE 4760 - [Biology of Fishes] (4 cr)
- BIOSM 4650 - [Sharks: The Biology, Evolution, and Conservation of Sharks and Their Allies] (3 cr)
- BIOSM 3730 - Biodiversity and Biology of the Marine Invertebrates (3 cr)
- BIOSM 1780 - Evolution and Marine Diversity (3 cr)
Group B - Advanced Topics
- BIOEE 4570 - Limnology: Ecology of Lakes, Lectures (3 cr)
- BIOEE 4571 - [Limnology: Ecology of Lakes, Laboratory] (2 cr)
- BIOEE 4620 - [Marine Ecosystem Sustainability] (crosslisted) (3 cr)
- BIOEE 4790 - Paleobiology (crosslisted) (4 cr)
- BIOEE 4900 - Topics in Marine Biology (2 cr)
- BIOEE 3500 - Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems in a Changing Ocean (crosslisted) (3 cr)
- EAS 3510 - Conservation Oceanography (crosslisted) (4 cr)
- BIOMI 6992 - Current Research in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography (1 cr)
- NTRES 3110 - Fish Ecology, Conservation, and Management (3 cr)
- NTRES 3111 - Fish Ecology Laboratory (1 cr)
- NTRES 4110 - [Quantitative Ecology and Management of Fisheries Resources] (4 cr)
- SEA 3690 - Practical Oceanography I (4 cr)
- SEA 3700 - Practical Oceanography II (4 cr)
- SEA 3710 - Marine Environmental History (4 cr)
- SEA 3780 - Oceans and Climate: Oceans in the Global Carbon Cycle (4 cr)
- SEA 3800 - Oceanographic Field Methods (3 cr)