96665 - Biodiversity of Marine Animals: from species to populations

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Climate Action Oceans

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

The course deals with to provide fundamental and advanced knowledges and skills in zoology, zoogeography and life-history traits of marine animal taxa which are relevant for the biodiversity, sustainable use and conservation of the marine ecosystems. Furthermore, it aims to provide specialistic competences on bio-ecological, zoogeographic and reproductive features of flag- and key-species and populations for the ocean biodiversity, sustainability and health of marine ecosystems. The course will promote the abilities of MSc undergraduate students: to describe marine animal diversity and systematics, at multiple taxonomic levels; to describe and comparatively analyse the bio-ecological and reproductive features of marine animal taxa; to critically analyse and describe life-cycles, ecological and biological diversity of marine species and populations which are of priority for biological conservation and fishery.

Course contents

Module I Basic: Marine Zoology (2 ECTS)

This module provides fundamental knowledges on

  • the animal components in marine ecosystems and on their ecological interactions
  • functional organization, life-hisotry traits, systematics and diversity of the animal marine taxa relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of marine fishery resources and habitats: sponges, jellyfish and corals, molluscs (gastropods, clams, cephalopods), bristleworms, crustaceans, starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, tunicates, cartilaginous and bony fish, sea turtles, sea birds, marine mammals.

Linked to this module, we propose the Module II Basic: Marine Zoology Lab Practicals.

The Basic Module I, which provide a wide and fundamental knowledge of animals living in the oceans, generates the Module II Advanced: Animal Marine Species and Populations, which aims to provide advanced skills on the investigation methods and socio-economic impacts of results achieved in marine flag- and key-species and populations.

Module II Advanced: Animal Marine Species and Populations

This multidisciplinary module will be carried out by integrating the presentation and discussion of key-cases on flag and relevant marine species and populations with advanced seminars hold by experts and early-stage-researchers (e.g inspiring talks and call-the-expert). Key-cases will focus, for example, on large marine vertebrates as well as eco-physiological, zoogeographic and behavioural responses of marine animals aginst climate changes and anthropogenic stress. Readings are scientific papers published on peer-review journals that are accessible to non-expert readers and have strong impact on the blue growth and economy (e.g. Science, Nature, Science Advances, Nature Communications, PNAS).

Module LAB PRACTICALS: Marine Zoology Lab Practicals.

In this practical learning module, students will carry out lab observations and dissections of marine animals (molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms, tunicates and fish collected during trawl and pelagic scientific surveys) with the tutorial of professors and tutors. Lab practicals will allow students to observe and analyse morpho-anatomic adaptations and diversity  that have been evolutionarily shaped in marine animals for feeding, reproductive, physiological and migratory strategies.




As academic lecturers, we aim to provide to students an ad hoc edited digital book on Marine Zoology using digital tools and platforms available from editorial companies.

At this moment, we suggest the following textbooks

Marine Biology

Castro P, Huber ME. Biologia Marina. McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 8838666512.


ZOOLOGIA 18/ED CON CONNECT 18ed ISBN 8838696942 · 9788838696947 di Cleveland P. Hickman, Susan L. Keen, David J. Eisenhour, Allan Larson, Helen Lanson, Vincenzo Arizza, Olimpia Coppellotti, Laura Guidolin © 2020 | Data di Pubblicazione: 1 Settembre 2020 . https://www.mheducation.it/zoologia-18-ed-con-connect-9788838696947-italy

Zoologia dei vertebrati (versione digitale) eTEXT di F. Harvey Pough - Christine M. Janis - John B. Heiser ISBN 9788865185551


Lab-tutorials and digital handbooks for practicals in zoology

Peer-review scientific papers proposed and provided by academic lecturers

Teaching methods


Lab practicals

Advanced seminars hold by experts and early-stage researchers

Assessment methods

Both oral or written examinations and/or lab practical tests. Examination mode will be discussed and defined with the student class according to the soft-skills to be developed and acquired by students.

Teaching tools

Slide presentations

Lab-tutorials and digital handbook for practicals

Peer-review scientific papers


Students who are affected by a learning disability (DSA) and in need of special strategies to compensate for it are kindly requested to contact the Teacher, to be referred to the colleagues in charge and get proper advice and instructions.

Office hours

See the website of Fausto Tinti

See the website of Alessia Cariani