ECOL06009 2019 Aquatic Ecology: Theory and Lab

General Details

Full Title
Aquatic Ecology: Theory and Lab
Transcript Title
Aquatic Ecology: Theory and La
75 %
Subject Area
ECOL - Ecology
ESCI - Environmental Science
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Declan Feeney, Frances Lucy, Noel Connaughton, Paul Hamilton, Dolores Byrne, Ana Vale
Programme Membership
SG_SECOL_B07 202000 Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SECOL_H08 202000 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SECOL_C06 202000 Higher Certificate in Science in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SENVI_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science in Environmental Science SG_SENVI_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Science in Environmental Protection SG_SSCIE_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Science SG_SSCIE_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science SG_SSCIE_C06 201900 Higher Certificate in Science in Science

This module introduces the fundamental concepts of aquatic ecology through developing an understanding of the abiotic and biotic interactions of aquatic ecosystems. It includes examples from a range of aquatic ecosystems including estuarine and transitional coastal waters, rivers, lakes and wetlands. The abiotic and biotic component of various aquatic ecosystems are described and reinforced by practical elements covering the sampling and classification of aquatic habitats and their communities.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Describe the fundamental ecological concepts of population demographics, regulation of population size, community structure, community interactions and community development of estuary, river, lake and wetland ecosystems


Demonstrate an understanding of the biotic and abiotic components of a range of aquatic ecosystems


Recognise the dynamics of aquatic ecosystems and explain energy flow and nutrient cycling in a range of aquatic ecosystems


Identify and classify aquatic habitats using both Irish and international habitat classification systems


Collect and interpret sample data from selected aquatic habitats

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered full time (or part-time for online modules). This will include lectures, with laboratory practicals and site visits augmented by independent learning and directed learning. This approach is expected to address student learning needs. Moodle will be used as a repository of educational resources and as a means of assessment (e.g. uploading assignments). 

Module Assessment Strategies

Module will be assessed using a combination of end of semester final exam (40%), continuous assessment and course work (60%). The continuous assessment and course work will involve two in class theory assessments incorporating a series of short and multiple choice questions. Practical work will be assessed via a laboratory and field notebook and two written scientific reports (summative and diagnostic assessment).

The student must reach an assigned gate (mark) in the final exam and achieve 40% overall to pass the subject.

Repeat Assessments

Repeat Continuous Assessment and/or Final Exam.

Indicative Syllabus

Indicative theory and practicals at the discretion of the lecturer to meet the learning outcomes.

Introduction to aquatic ecology

  • Populations, communities and ecosystems
  • The aquatic environment

Water as a medium for life

  • Water life cycle
  • Chemical and physical properties of water which impact on aquatic ecosystems

Aquatic life cycles

  • General food webs and trophic systems
  • Focus on life cycles of species of conservation interest, e.g. Freshwater Pearl Mussel and Salmon

Aquatic ecosystems

  • Focus on rivers, lakes, estuaries and wetlands
  • Abiotic and biotic influencing factors
  • Community structure and functioning
  • Interconnection and links between aquatic systems

Ecosystem services of aquatic ecosystems

  • Types of ecosystem services provided by rivers, lakes, estuaries and wetlands
  • Pressures on these ecosystem services 
  • How pressures can be mitigated or avoided
  • Sustainable Development Goals and aquatic ecosystems

Aquatic environment sampling and monitoring

  • Field based sampling - to measure and assess a range of aquatic parameters in coastal and freshwater systems
  • Laboratory practicals - to identify, quantify and explore aquatic invertebrates and other parameters from coastal and freshwater systems 

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
60 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
40 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 In class assessment - short and multiple choice questions Continuous Assessment Assessment 10 % Week 6 1,2,3
2 In-class assessment - short and multiple choice questions Continuous Assessment Assessment 10 % Week 11 1,2,3
3 Practical evaluation - lab and field notebook (accurate record of practical work) Practical Practical Evaluation 15 % OnGoing 4,5
4 Written report - two written scientific reports on practical work Continuous Assessment Written Report 25 % OnGoing 4,5

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Theory end of semester examination Final Exam Closed Book Exam 40 % End of Term 1,2,3

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Theory lectures 2 Weekly 2.00
Laboratory Practical Science Laboratory Laboratory practicals and field trips 2 Weekly 2.00
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Independent learning 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 4.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Recommended Reading
2018-12-20 Freshwater Ecology and Conservation Techniques in Ecology & Conser
ISBN 0198766424 ISBN-13 9780198766421

This practical manual of freshwater ecology and conservation provides a state-of-the-art review of the approaches and techniques used to measure, monitor, and conserve freshwater ecosystems. It offers a single, comprehensive, and accessible synthesis of the vast amount of literature for freshwater ecology and conservation that is currently dispersed in manuals, toolkits, journals, handbooks, 'grey' literature, and websites. Successful conservation outcomes are ultimately built on a sound ecological framework in which every species must be assessed and understood at the individual, community, catchment and landscape level of interaction. For example, freshwater ecologists need to understand hydrochemical storages and fluxes, the physical systems influencing freshwaters at the catchment and landscape scale, and the spatial and temporal processes that maintain species assemblages and their dynamics. A thorough understanding of all these varied processes, and the techniques for studying them, is essential for the effective conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems.

Recommended Reading
2018-05-08 Riverine Ecosystem Management Springer
ISBN 9783319732503 ISBN-13 3319732501

This open access book surveys the frontier of scientific river research and provides examples to guide management towards a sustainable future of riverine ecosystems. Principal structures and functions of the biogeosphere of rivers are explained; key threats are identified, and effective solutions for restoration and mitigation are provided. Rivers are among the most threatened ecosystems of the world. They increasingly suffer from pollution, water abstraction, river channelisation and damming. Fundamental knowledge of ecosystem structure and function is necessary to understand how human acitivities interfere with natural processes and which interventions are feasible to rectify this. Modern water legislation strives for sustainable water resource management and protection of important habitats and species. However, decision makers would benefit from more profound understanding of ecosystem degradation processes and of innovative methodologies and tools for efficient mitigation and restoration. The book provides best-practice examples of sustainable river management from on-site studies, European-wide analyses and case studies from other parts of the world. This book will be of interest to researchers in the field of aquatic ecology, river system functioning, conservation and restoration, to postgraduate students, to institutions involved in water management, and to water related industries.

Required Reading
2013-06-13 Ecology of Aquatic Management OUP Oxford
ISBN 0199693293 ISBN-13 9780199693290

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Dobson, M & Frid, C. 2009. Ecology of Aquatic ecosystems. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press


Journal Resources

Journal of Aquatic Ecology 

Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science

Journal of Aquatic Botany

URL Resources

Inland Fisheries Ireland -


National Parks and Wildlife Service - 

Water Framework Directive -

European Environment Agency -

Food and Agriculture Organisation -

Ecosystem Service Partnership -

Natural Capital Coalition -

UN Sustainable Development Goals -

Other Resources

Additional resources will be made available on IT Sligo learn online system (Moodle) at the discretion of the lecturer. Will contain pdfs of powerpoint lectures and links to additional reading material for selected topics.

Additional Information