Early Life History of Marine Fishes (COA 642, 3 credit hours)

Spring Semester (odd-numbered years)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFish eggs, larvae and early juveniles are the most vulnerable life stages, and under natural conditions, experience mortality rates approaching 100%. It is widely believed that variability in the recruitment of marine fishes to adult populations is largely related to the variability encountered in vital rates during the early life stages. Early life history studies can be wide-ranging in their goals, and include research related to aquaculture, recruitment fluctuations, population assessments, population connectivity, conservation, and biodiversity, among other topics. These studies, while critical to our understanding of marine ecosystems and the management of natural resources, are complicated by the complex life cycles of most marine species, and the incredibly difficult task of identifying fish eggs and larvae. The primary goal of this class is to present the challenges that fishes experience as they move from the egg stage through recruitment to the adult population. Lecture topics will include egg and larval dispersal and transport, metamorphosis and settlement, size-selective and density-dependent mortality, feeding, growth, and predation. Relevant information on physical oceanography, fish biology and morphology, and ecological concepts will also be presented as needed to provide background information and context for class discussions.


Professional Skills (COA 603, 3 credit hours)

Fall Semester (every year)

This course includes lectures, activities and workshops designed to improve scientific writing, grantsmanship, oral/poster presentation skills, and other aspects associated with professional development and scientific communication. Assignments are intended to develop the professional skills discussed in class, and will include writing exercises (CV, cover letters, proposal narrative, prospectus), technical exercises (table and figure preparation, budget development), scientific presentations (oral and poster presentations), and critical evaluation (peer review of writings and presentations).


Ecology of Fishes (COA 746, 3 credit hours)

Spring Semester (even-numbered years)

IMG_1709.jpgMarine fishes are among the most abundant and diverse vertebrates on earth. From pole to pole and from surface waters to the deepest ocean depths, fishes play critical ecological roles in a wide range of marine environments, and many species support large commercial and recreational fishing operations that feed a large portion of the world’s population. The goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the relationships marine fishes have to the physical, chemical and biological components of their environments. An emphasis will be placed on key ecological components, such as feeding, migrations, reproduction, and behavior (among others), and how these components vary in relation to fish phylogeny, ontogeny and habitat associations. Lectures and assigned readings will provide relevant background information and an understanding of advance concepts in fish ecology. These concepts will then be applied in student-led group discussions of recently published, peer-reviewed journal articles related to class topics. By the end of the course students should develop critical thinking, written and oral communication skills as they relate to the ecology of marine fishes.


Marine Ichthyology (COA 421/421L, COA 521/521L, 3/3 credit hours)

Summer Field Program
IMG_0049The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of the taxonomy, systematics, biodiversity, anatomy, biogeography, and ecology of marine fishes, with an emphasis on the bony fishes (Class Actinopterygii) of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Course content will be provided through a combination of formal classroom lectures, field collection trips, laboratory exercises, and supplemental readings. This is an intensive six credit hour class, consisting of separate, graded lecture (3 h) and lab (3 h) sections that must be taken concurrently. Fieldwork will make up a large portion of the course, and participation in field excursions is mandatory (and lots of fun).


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