Marine Biology Curriculum
A senior research project is required of students in the major. Each academic experience builds toward your senior project, which is a research or a creative project in your major or area of concentration. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
Here’s a list of course offerings:
Please note that since many New College students combine their study of marine biology with other disciplines within the field, we recommend that students visit the curriculum section of our Biology AOC to view additional courses offered at the College.
Introduction to Oceanography
We will examine physical, chemical, biological and geological phenomena of the oceans, emphasizing events in the tropics. More than 85% of all Americans live within 50 miles of a coastline (including major lakes). Though mountain climbers aspire to climb Mt. Everest on land, many people walk the peaks of the highest mountain on Earth, Hawaii (33,476 feet high from base on the ocean floor to tallest rise above sea-level), every day without notice. Students will be expected to participate in group projects and to engage in active learning. Some in-class experiments and field trips will enhance the lecture course. Those interested in a gender studies focus are welcome. Science background is not required.
Enrollment limited to 25.
Coral Reef Ecology
This course is a survey of the principles and concepts of ecology as applied to the study of coral reef ecosystems. Unique features of coral reefs will be considered as well as features in common with other ecosystems. The role of coral reefs in global ecology will be investigated and examples of reefs in the major reef provinces will be studied, with some emphasis on the Caribbean. Theoretical issues in ecology will be considered in light of impacts on reef dynamics of anthropogenic and natural factors. This course also includes an opportunity for students to participate in a field lab in Bocas del Toro, Panama during the summer. Enrollment limited to 30 students.
An Introduction to Aquarium Science: Its History and Methods
This lecture course will cover the history of study of aquatic organisms in the “captive” environment. It will detail methodologies for maintaining marine and freshwater organisms and ecosystems for observation and experimental studies. A survey of commonly maintained species and their classifications and general biology will be included. Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Preference will be given to students carrying out or planning research on captive aquatic organisms. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Laboratory Experience in Aquatic Biology and Aquarium Science and College level general biology or consent of instructor.
Laboratory Experience in Aquatic Biology and Aquarium Science
This laboratory course will feature collecting and identification of aquatic life in local habitats. Students will set up, maintain and monitor organisms in marine or freshwater aquaria. Field trips to local public aquariums will be arranged. Films and videotapes will be used to “visit” other aquariums and underwater habitats. Techniques for behavioral observation and underwater photography and videography will be discussed and students will carry out mini-projects on the ecology or behavior of selected aquatic organisms/ecosystems. With permission, students may assist staff in the maintenance and study of organisms in the larger aquariums of the LETRA (Living Ecosystems Teaching and Research Aquarium). Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in An Introduction to Aquarium Science and college level general biology or consent of instructor. Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Invertebrate Zoology: Phylogeny, Form and Function
This course will emphasize the ecology, structure and physiology of invertebrates, the largest assemblage of animals on earth. Systematics will be covered in the context of phylogenetic relationships of taxa. Representative invertebrates will be collected from Sarasota Bay and other local habitats for classroom/laboratory study. General Biology would be helpful but is not required. Laboratory fee is required. Limited to 20 students due to classroom/lab constraints.
Fish Biology Laboratory
Students will identify specimens of most major groups of fishes using frozen material from museum collections, fishes collected by the class, and live fish in aquarium displays. Emphasis will be on local freshwater, estuarine and marine animals. A comparative approach will be emphasized. Observation of the behavior of live animals will be carried out in the laboratory including the larger aquariums of the LETRA (Living Ecosystems Teaching and Research Aquarium). Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Fish Biology Lecture or consent of the instructor. Highest priority for enrollment will be given to students doing independent study or thesis research on fishes or ecosystems involving fishes. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Lab Fee Required.
Fish Biology Lecture
This course will cover in some detail the major features of modern fish biology, including a synthesis of material from “classical” ichthyology, fishery science, fish physiology including behavioral biology, and certain aspects of limnology and marine biology. The history of fishes will be covered in an evolutionary context. This will include all major fish groups. Discussion will stress adaptive features, which permit survival in diverse aquatic environments. Functional systems for: reproduction and development, feeding and growth, locomotion, sensory perception, cardiovascular and endocrine control, osmoregulation, territoriality, migration, behavioral ecology, genetics and conservation biology, will be considered in some detail. Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Prerequisite: General Biology, concurrent enrollment in Fish Biology Laboratory or consent of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Marine Ecology and Conservation
This course examines the relationships among different marine organisms and their environment with emphasis on ecology, conservation, and the evolutionary paths. Using interdisciplinary approaches and patterned after a ‘real life’ scientific setting, students will investigate current conservation issues affecting the marine environment, different stakeholder’s viewpoints, and the potential subsequent effects on the issues. Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Laboratory
“Hands-on” exercises to compliment the lectures and discussions in the Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Lecture. Nervous and sensory systems in a variety of invertebrates and cold-blooded vertebrates will be studied by dissection and study of special microscope preparations. Working in small groups students will also explore the affects of neural lesions and electrical stimulation on the behavior of selected invertebrates and fishes. Students will be expected to provide documentation of the results of the lab studies. Prerequisite: Completion or concurrent enrollment in Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Lecture or consent of instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. Lab fee required.Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Lecture
This course will survey neural and hormonal systems that mediate behavior in a variety of marine animals. The evolution of control systems for adaptive behaviors will be stressed. Phylogenetic as well as levels of organization approaches to understanding brain-behavior systems will be considered. Topics include: integration in nerve nets of jellyfish and hydroids; primitive bilateral control in flatworms; ganglionic integration and central control of behavior in arthropods and molluscs; neuroendocrine pathways in higher invertebrates; radial control in echinoderms; origins of vertebrate nervous pathways in the protochordates; evolution of sensorimotor integration and behavioral plasticity (learning and related phenomena) in fishes. Survey of cetacean brain-behavior systems. Prerequisites: Some prior knowledge of basic neurobiology and/or physiological psychology or zoology of marine organisms, or consent of instructor.Marine Biology Group Tutorials
In addition to traditional classes, New College students in all disciplines augment their learning and pursue areas of special interest through individual and group tutorials, as well as independent study projects. Here is a look at some recent group tutorials in marine biology.
• Mangrove Ecology
• Marine Collecting Techniques
• Marine Science Outreach Tutorial
• Seagrass Ecology
To find out more about the Marine Biology AOC and course listings, check out our general catalog.
You can also click here to read the Marine Biology Academic Learning Compact.