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BIO308: Marine Biology

Unit 1: The Ocean Environment   While the ecology and community relationships of marine organisms are in some ways very similar to those of terrestrial organisms, species that live in water deal with a very different environment than we do and are affected by the properties of that environment.  For example, the coloring, or lack thereof, of animals in deep water is related to the wavelengths of light that are transmitted so far below the surface.  Also, organisms that live in the “intertidal zone,” the area that is covered by water at high tide but exposed to the air at low tide, alter their behavior and physiology in response to the movements of tides. Understanding the abiotic (non-living) aspects of this medium will give you a better sense of the world in which marine organisms live. This unit will introduce you to the ocean, giving you an overview of its chemistry, its physical properties, and some of the oceanographic features that influence the physiology, ecology, and behavior of the organisms within it.  

Unit 1 Time Advisory
It should take you approximately 5 hours to complete this unit.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 1.2: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.5: 1 hour

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Answer questions about plate tectonics (including identifying types of margins/plate boundaries from given examples and demonstrating their understanding of the theory of continental drift).
  • Explain what causes tides, when one would see high vs. low tides, and describe the differences between spring and neap tides.
  • Describe the properties of seawater, and identify the ways that these properties have affected the behavior/physiology of marine vs. land organisms.
  • Answer questions about wave properties and movements and identify types of waves.
  • Explain the ways in which oceans affect climate and vice versa (e.g. upwelling).

1.1 The Ocean's Origin   - Reading: MarineBio’s “History of the Ocean” Link: MarineBio’s “History of the Ocean” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entirety of this webpage, which discusses the origin of the oceans in the context of the earth’s orbit, the geological composition of areas, and the weathering of rocks.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.1 Plate Tectonics   Note: The topic of plate tectonics is covered in the reading below subunit 1.1.

1.1.2 Divergent and Convergent Margins   Note: The topic of divergent and convergent margins is covered in the reading below subunit 1.1.

1.2 Seawater   - Reading: MarineBio’s “Ocean Chemistry” Link: MarineBio’s “Ocean Chemistry” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage in its entirety.  It will cover the topics outlined in subunits 1.2.1–1.2.3.
 
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1.2.1 Properties of Water   Note: This topic is covered in the reading for subunit 1.2.

1.2.2 Density and Layering of Fluids   Note: This topic is covered in the reading for subunit 1.2.

1.2.3 Composition of Seawater   Note: This topic is covered in the reading for subunit 1.2.

1.2.3.1 Salts   Note: This topic is covered in the reading for subunit 1.2.

1.2.3.2 Gases   Note: This topic is covered in the reading for subunit 1.2.

1.2.4 Light Penetration   - Reading: MarineBio: Dr. Sean Chamberlin’s “The Light and Color of the Oceans” and The Habitable Planet’s “Ocean Structure and Composition” Links: MarineBio: Dr. Sean Chamberlin’s “The Light and Color of the Oceans” (HTML) and The Habitable Planet's  “Ocean Structure and Composition”  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read “Light and Color of the Oceans” in its entirety.  Reading text in the “Ocean Structure and Composition” is optional.  The diagram can be clicked on to be made large for further analysis.  This material will also cover the topic outlined in section 1.5.4 of this course.
 
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  • Reading: Nature Knowledge: Daniel M. Sigman and Mathis P. Hain: “The Biological Productivity of the Ocean: Section 1" Link: Nature Knowledge: Daniel M. Sigman and Mathis P. Hain: “The Biological Productivity of the Ocean: Section 1" (HTML)
     
    Instructions Please scroll down to Figure 2," Typical conditions in the subtropical ocean" to look at this diagram as well. 
     
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1.3 Oceans in Motion   1.3.1 Currents   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Currents” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Currents” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This site contains several webpages. Read the introductory page (“Currents”).
 
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1.3.1.1 Tidal Currents   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Tidal Currents” 1 and 2 Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Tidal Currents” (HTML) 1 and 2
 
Instructions: Read “Tidal Currents 1,” and then click on the tab under Currents to read “Tidal Currents 2.”  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.1.2 Coastal Currents   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Waves,” “Longshore Currents,” and “Rip Currents” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Waves” (HTML), “Longshore Currents” (HTML), and “Rip Currents” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read each page in its entirety.  As you read, consider the effects that coastal currents can have on shoreline structure and marine-community composition.  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.1.3 Surface Ocean Currents   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “The Coriolis Effect,” “Trade Winds,” “Boundary Currents,” and “The Ekman Spiral” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “The Coriolis Effect” (HTML), “Trade Winds” (HTML), “Boundary Currents” (HTML), and “The Ekman Spiral” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read each page in its entirety.  Think of the influence that currents have on the plankton that is carried with them and on the many organisms that feed on that plankton.  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.1.4 The Global Conveyor Belt   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Thermohaline Circulation” and “The Global Conveyor Belt” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Thermohaline Circulation” (HTML) and “The Global Conveyor Belt” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read each page in its entirety; these will explain the processes through which ocean waters become replenished with necessary nutrients and gases.  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.2 Upwelling and Downwelling   - Web Media: NOAA’s Ocean Explorer: Dr. Steven Gaines and Dr. Satie Airame’s “Upwelling” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Explorer: Dr. Steven Gaines and Dr. Satie Airame’s “Upwelling” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entirety of this page, and look at the associated diagrams to understand more about this process, which is vitally important in maintaining marine ecosystems.
 
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1.3.5 Tides   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “What Are Tides?” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “What Are Tides?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this introduction to tides.
 
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1.3.5.1 Gravitational Forces and Tides   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “What Causes Tides,” “Gravity, Inertia, and Bulges,” “Frequency of Tides” Links: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “What Causes Tides” (HTML), “Gravity, Inertia, and Bulges” (HTML), “Frequency of Tides” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read these pages in their entirety to understand the influences of the sun and moon on tides.  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.5.2 Rotations and Tides   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Changing Angles and Changing Tides” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Changing Angles and Changing Tides” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page in its entirety.  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.5.3 Variations in Tidal Heights   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Tidal Variations—The Influence of Position and Distance” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Tidal Variations—The Influence of Position and Distance” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page in its entirety.  Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topic and provide further information on the topic.
 
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1.3.5.4 Tidal Cycles   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Types and Causes of Tidal Cycles—Diurnal, Semidiurnal, Mixed Semidiurnal; Continental Interference” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “Types and Causes of Tidal Cycles—Diurnal, Semidiurnal, Mixed Semidiurnal; Continental Interference” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page in its entirety. Click on all figures and animations; these both illustrate the topics and provide further information on the topics.
 
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1.3.5.5 Local Effects   - Reading: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “What Affects Tides in Addition to the Sun and Moon?” Link: NOAA’s Ocean Service Education: “What Affects Tides in Addition to the Sun and Moon?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page in its entirety.
 
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1.4 Ocean Climate   - Reading: Texas A&M; University: Professor Robert Stewart’s Oceanography in the 21st Century: “The Ocean and Climate” Link: Texas A&M University: Professor Robert Stewart’s Oceanography in the 21st Century: “The Ocean and Climate” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page in its entirety.  It will cover the topics outlinedin subunits 1.4.1-1.4.6.
 
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1.4.1 Climatic Surface Winds   Note: This topic is covered by the resource below subunit 1.4.

1.4.2 Temperature Gradients   Note: This topic is covered by the resource below subunit 1.4.

1.4.3 Salinity Gradients   Note: This topic is covered by the resource below subunit 1.4.

1.4.4 Seasonal Variations   Note: This topic is covered by the resource below subunit 1.4.

1.4.5 Circulation Effects   Note: This topic is covered by the resource below subunit 1.4.

1.4.6 Resulting Global Climate Zones   Note: This topic is covered by the resource below subunit 1.4.

1.5 Living in Salt Water   - Reading: MarineBio’s “The Structures and Adaptations to Marine Living” Link: MarineBio’s “The Structures and Adaptations to Marine Living” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the first section of this page (up to but not including “Chordate Origins.” However, please ignore the italicized information from Discover Magazine, as some information within it is not accurate—most specifically the section on fish swim bladders.  Fish do not inflate or deflate swim bladders as a means of rising or sinking in the water; the swim bladder inflates or deflates to respond to local pressure and maintain neutral buoyancy).
 
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1.5.1 Osmoregulation   Note: This material is covered in the reading for subunit 1.5.

1.5.2 Buoyancy   - Reading: The Earthlife Web’s “Fish Anatomy: The Swim Bladder” Link: The Earthlife Web’s “Fish Anatomy: The Swim Bladder” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page in its entirety; the material will give you a good sense of the behaviors and adaptations of fish in maintaining their buoyancy and withstanding pressure.  This will cover the topics outlined in sections 1.5.2 and 1.5.3.
 
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1.5.3 Pressure   Note: This material was covered in the reading for subunit 1.5.2.

1.5.4 Light Limitations   Note: This material was covered in the reading for subunit 1.2.4.

1.5.5 Viscosity   - Web Media: University of Wisconsin Madison: Professor Michael Graham’s “How to Swim in Corn Syrup” Link: University of Wisconsin Madison: Professor Michael Graham’s “How to Swim in Corn Syrup” (HTML and YouTube)
 
Instructions: We tend to think of water as something that is easy to swim in and easy to move through; if your goggles came off underwater, it would be no trouble to reach out and grab them. But water is a very different, and much thicker, medium for small aquatic organisms.  For them, movement requires different strategies, and grabbing something through water is as difficult as it is for you to scoop a piece of an egg shell out of a bowl of raw eggs using a fork. Read the section “How to Swim in Corn Syrup” and watch the accompanying videos, which demonstrates how small marine organisms that exist at low Reynolds numbers (where the ratio of inertia to viscosity is low) move in an environment that feels much denser to them than it does to larger swimmers.
 
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  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Time and Tide” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Time and Tide” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please complete the entire assessment.  You can check your answers against the answer key here