Coastal and Marine Ecology

CMM31 Core course 6 ECTS
Period W39 - W41 22.09.14 - 08.10.14
Instructor Halldór P. Halldórsson (supervision), Edda Magnúsdóttir (main instructor) and Lísa Anne Libungan


This is an introductory course in marine ecology and the coastal environment. While emphasizing ecosystem patterns and processes, this course introduces ecological principles of both population and community ecology and strives to relate ecological knowledge to the broader context of the many global environmental challenges we face today.


i) Basic concepts: Diversity of life, distribution and dispersal, principles of population growth and species interactions. Primary production, decomposition and nutrient cycling in marine ecosystems, their trophic dynamics and food webs. Relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem stability and ecosystem functioning, disturbance and succession of communities.

ii) Human induced impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems, including fisheries, aquaculture and climate change as well as introduction to ecosystem conservation.

Discussion sessions and writing assignments serve to deepen the understanding of selected theoretical and practical concepts, approaches or applications as well as to train students in reading and writing scientific papers.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • The student understands the role of ecology in environment and natural resources studies and management and its importance for decision-making.
  • The student understands the basic ecological principles of population, community and ecosystem ecology as well as the main patterns and processes of the marine ecosystems.
  • The student knows and understands the consequences of the major human induced impacts on marine ecosystems.

Practical ability and skills

  • The student will gain practice in reading and writing sections of scientific papers.
  • The student will be able to link human impacts on marine ecosystems to potential management actions.
  • The student can read most scientific papers in ecology and critically review and discuss basic ecological subjects in an oral and a written form.


  • One written assignment
  • Two discussion sessions
  • Final exam


1 of 2

Edda Magnúsdóttir is a PhD student. She is studying the ecology and acoustic behaviour of cetaceans at the NE-coast of Iceland using bottom mounted ecological acoustic recorders. Target species are humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) and killer whales (Orcinus orca).

Lísa Anne Libungan

Halldór Pálmar Halldórsson holds a PhD in Biology, and is a Director of the University of Iceland´s Research Centre in Sudurnes, Iceland. His specialization / research areas are Marine Biology and Ecotoxicology

Guest lecturer

Further reading

Required course textbooks:

Marine Ecology 2nd ed. (1st ed. works as well).

Readings and further readings posted on class website.