18613 - Marine Ecology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Climate Action Oceans Life on land

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will be familiar with 1) the geological evolution of the planet earth and the formation of sea basins; 2) the physical and chemical characteristics of the water masses; 3) physiography and geomorphology of the seabed, genesis and characteristics of rocks and sediments; 4) sedimentological processes and distribution of benthic environments; 5) the interactions between marine organisms and the abiotic environment; 6) the main types of marine ecosystems and their functional characteristics; 7) the processes of formation of populations and their distribution in space and time.

Course contents

Plate tectonics: the engine of the phyisiographic and environmental setting of the oceans. The character of the oceanic basins in connection with their geodynamic setting. Methods and tools of oceanography. Physics and chemistry of the oceanic water and their variability at the local and regional scale. Sediments: their classification and their relationships with genetic processes and the marine depositional environments. Waves, storms, tides, currents: the agents that controls the shallow-water marine environment. Turbidites, landslides and contourites: the processes that shape the deep-sea environment. Marine environments from the coastline to the deep-sea: elements and variability of marine habitats. The marine environment in the Anthropocene: pollution, resources and sustainable development.

The responses of marine organisms to the variability of environmental factors at sea: tolerance and adaptation. Marine habitats from the coast to the open sea, latitudinal gradients: structural and functional aspects. Review of the main characteristics of the life cycles of marine organisms. Larval dispersal and settlement and recruitment processes. The distribution of organisms in space, the concept of environmental mosaic, patchiness. The variability of populations over time: dynamics of marine populations. Ecological role of interactions between species.


Marine environment (F. Gamberi)

Garrison T (2009) Oceanography: an invitation to Marine Sciences, 7th edition International edition, Brooks/Cole, 582 pp

Bosellini A, Mutti E, Ricci Lucchi F (1989) Rocce e successioni sedimentarie, UTET, Bologna


Marine life (M. Ponti)

Cerrano C, Ponti M, Silvestri S (2019) Guida alla biologia marina del Mediterraneo. Kemet, Torino, 320 pp.

Danovaro R (2022) Biologia marina. Biodiversità e funzionamento degli ecosistemi marini, UTET Università, Bologna, 544 pp.

Teaching methods

The course is divided into lectures and practical sessions, possibly in the field and / or in the laboratory, with collection and analysis of samples/data and interpretation of results. Visit to the ISMAR (Institute of Marine Sciences) of the CNR of Bologna where the tools used in oceanographic and marine biology campaigns and the principles and techniques for the analysis and interpretation of the acquired data will be presented. Visit to the Environmental Sciences Laboratories, seat of the Master's Degree in Marine Biology, at the Ravenna Campus.

In consideration of the types of activities and teaching methods adopted, the attendance of this training activity requires all students to complete the e-learning modules 1 and 2, and to participate to module 3 on specific training on safety and health in the places of study. Information on dates and methods of attendance of module 3 are reported in the specific section of the degree program website.

Assessment methods

The end-of-course exam aims to assess the degree of learning of the concepts presented in the classroom, and the ability to analyze and synthesize developed during the exercises and discussion of the articles. It is carried out simultaneously for the two modules of the course.
The ability to apply the methods and interpret the results will be the subject of the oral examination and will mainly refer to case studies.

The final grade of the Course consists in the synthesis of the evaluations of the two modules and of the different components of the course activities.

Teaching tools

The teaching material will be made available on the e-learning platform of UNIBO.

Office hours

See the website of Massimo Ponti

See the website of Fabiano Gamberi