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The University of Southampton

SOES2011 Marine Vertebrates

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

1. To introduce you to the main vertebrates found in the sea. 2. To understand the faunal characteristics of chordates and vertebrates. 3. To understand the taxonomy of fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. 4. To examine the ecology of marine vertebrates with particular reference to feeding, reproduction, behaviour and migrations.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of chordates and vertebrates.
  • Identify the main marine vertebrate taxa.
  • Determine the ecology including migration patterns and behaviour of marine vertebrates.
  • Knowledge of origin of chordates
  • Knowledge of main vertebrate groups
  • Essay and web skills


Topics will include: • Introduction and the characteristics and faunal affinities of marine vertebrates • Fish: taxonomy, ecology, reproduction and behaviour of agnathans, elasmobranchs and teleosts • Reptiles: taxonomy and characteristics, ecology reproduction of turtles, crocodiles and aligators, iguanas and sea snakes • Birds: origin and structure, ecological adaptations of wading, oceanic and flightless birds. • Mammals: characteristics and ecology including behaviour of carnivores including pinnipeds, mustelids and polar bear, dolphins and whales and sirenians.

Special Features

Restricted to Marine Biology students.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will provide an introduction to the theory underlying the characteristics and faunal affinities of marine vertebrates. Topics covered will include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Visit: A visit to the Natural History Museum to see representatives of the different types of vertebrates in both whole and skeletonized form. A wide range of support is available for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Practical classes and workshops2
Independent Study102
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 60%
PowerPoint project 10%
Short answer paper 30%
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