EOSC 270 · Marine Biodiversity

This course is an introduction to marine ecosystems: You will learn about the diversity of marine ecosystems globally, where they occur and how they function, and the unique challenges that these ecosystems present to life and how are they overcome by the species that inhabit them.

You will also consider and learn about the array of human impacts that these ecosystems face, how their ecosystem properties determine their response, and the potential solutions to their preservation. 

[3-0-0] Prerequisite: One of SCIE 001, CHEM 111, CHEM 121, CHEM 154.

Course Availability & Schedule

 Non-specialist course

Learning goals: 
  1. Describe the diversity of global marine ecosystems;
  2. Understand the challenges of life in the different marine ecosystems; Explain how organisms are adapted to the challenges they face in the different marine ecosystems;
  3. Explain ecological, physical and chemical processes and interactions that define marine ecosystems;
  4. Compare and contrast habitats and ecological processes between any number of marine ecosystems;
  5. Knowledge of major human impacts on marine ecosystems;
  6. Analyze how the inherent characteristics of an ecosystem may make it resilient or susceptible to anthropogenic threats

Essential elements

  • Lectures on earths primary marine ecosystems; 
  • Reading assignments on key tropics related to new research advancing our understanding of these ecosystems as well as human interactions with and impacts on these ecosystems;  
  • In-class breakout rooms for peer-on-peer discussion on readings; 
  • Assignment 1: UBC Wiki project and Class Presentation on marine ecosystems and the human dimension;
  • Assignment 2: Marine biodiversity, drivers of change, and ecosystem response - a case study.      


Brian Hunt


You are required to purchase or rent copies of the two textbooks below. Both textbooks will be used throughout the semester for in class assignments. They provide a valuable source of information on topics relevant to the course. Both textbooks are available online through Redshelf or Vitalsource:

  1. Marine ecology: processes, systems, and impacts / Michel J. Kaiser [and others]; with contributions from Peter J. le B. Williams [and others]. 2020•https://www.vitalsource.com/en-ca/products/marine-ecology-v9780192522856https://www.redshelf.com/
  2. Marine biology: function, biodiversity, ecology/ Jeffrey S. Levinton, Stony Brook University. 2018•https://www.vitalsource.com/en-ca/products/marine-biology-jeffrey-levint...https://www.redshelf.com/

Lecture Topics

  • Ecosystem foundations - primary producers
  • Soft Bottoms - Sandy beaches & mud flats
  • Estuaries 
  • Coral Reefs 
  • Epipelagic 
  • Mesopelagic – The Twilight Zone
  • Bathypelagic and the Deep Sea
  • Hydrothermal Vents
  • Cold Seeps and the Lost City 
  • Polar Systems