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Laboratoire d'Ecogéochimie des Environnements Benthiques
UMR 8222

Coastal ecosystem ecology and functioning

 Master of Science of the Universe, Ecologie, Environment

 Speciality Oceanography and Marine Environments

Teaching unity 5MU12



3 weeks (6 ECTS) - Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls-sur-Mer (http://www.obs-banyuls.fr)

Responsible teachers : A. Pruski, audrey.pruski @ obs-banyuls.fr, J. Orignac, jadwiga.orignac@obs-banyuls.fr


 Objectives of the course:

This course is designed to provide students with an integrated view of the major ecological processes in coastal environments, with a special focus on how these processes impact the biogeochemical cycling of carbon. An emphasis is put on the dynamic of the coupling between pelagic and benthic ecosystems, and on how organism-sediment interactions impact benthic biogeochemistry.  

This course is intended for students who want to embrace an academic career as well as those who intend to be involved in environmental management of the littoral and need a good knowledge of coastal ecosystem functioning.

Content of the Course:

This course provides a good background for anyone you want to study benthic ecology in coastal systems and underlines the particularities of the Mediterranean Sea. The major topics of the course include: pelagic primary production, river-sea continuum, sedimentation/resuspension processes, benthic/pelagic ecosystem coupling, sediment-organism interactions, and early diagenesis. Practical works will illustrate the concepts acquired during the course. Current literature will be used to encourage students to integrate lecture topics and achieve a comprehensive understanding of how biogeochemical processes serve to regulate ecosystem function in these diverse habitats. Discussions will also focus on the anthropogenic influence on the estuarine ecosystem.

Initial Competences:

 Basic knowledge in marine biology and oceanography

Final Competences:

Students will be formed to marine ecosystem science, linking observations, experiments, and applied modelling. They will also acquire transferable tools such as methods used for the monitoring of the environment (chemical sensors, biochemical analyses).  By the end of the course students will know: What are the main processes that govern marine ecosystem functioning in coastal waters; how marine organisms affect these processes; how human activity may impact the functioning of coastal ecosystems; how to study the bentho-pelagic coupling in coastal ecosystems.  

Teaching methods

  • Lectures and conferences (30 hours).
  • Practical lab works involving experiments and biochemical analyses : (1) to describe the physical and chemical properties of the sedimentary ecosystems (grain size, porosity, organic matter composition, oxygen concentration), (2)  to illustrate the response of the benthic compartment to a pulse of fresh organic matter, and  (3) to study the influence of benthic organisms on organic matter degradation.
  • A conceptual work on the processes at the benthic-pelagic boundary integrating results from the practical works.
  • Some demonstrations in the classroom.
  • Field cruise on RV Nereis.
  • Learning materials

 A few selected scientific papers.

Recommended reading (No class book is required for the course).

Students may read:

  • -Mediterranean Ecosystems: Structures and Processes by F. Faranda, L. Guglielmo and G. Spezie 2001
  • -Biogeochemistry of estuaries by T. Bianchi 2006
  • -Marine Biology by J.S. Levinton 2001
  • -Ecology of Coastal Waters: With Implications For Management by K.H. Mann 2009
  • -Global coastal change by  I. Valiela 2009
  • -Le golfe du Lion A. by Monaco et al. 2009

Calculation of the examination mark

Oral presentation of the personal project (50%) and a final written examination (50%).

Course Facilities

  • Classroom with projection 
  • pdf of lectures and printed laboratory manuals
  • Computing room
  • WIFI access
  • Library access on site
  • Laboratories with scientific equipment (gas chromatographs, spectrofluorimeter,laser granulometer, flow cytometer, oximeter, microsensors …)
  • Oceanographic vessel with sampling equipment
  • On site facilities for accommodation and institutional catering

Audrey Pruski (audrey.pruski @ obs-banyuls.fr) - 23/08/16

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