Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SOES2017 Marine Benthos Ecology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Describe and explain how benthic ecosystems are structured fromboth physical and biological perspectives with particular reference to marine sediments as habitats and the classification of seafloor asemsemblages
  • Define and review how benthic ecosystems function and how benthic organisms adapt to respond to and /or regulate their environment
  • Describe and explain the customary sampling methods used when surveying different marine benthic habitats and/or targeting specific marine benthic organisms in order to be able to design a robust experimental approach
  • Analyse and interpret biological and environmental data from marine benthic habitats using descriptive, univariate and multivariate statistical tests over temporal and spatial scales.
  • Discuss and examine the sources and implications of change inmarine benthic ecosystems and the approaches used to mitigate change with particular reference to disturbance and anthropogenic activities and the ecosystem consequences of biodiversity loss


The following subject areas are dealt with during the module: Introduction to sediment processes and the distribution of marine sediment habitats Methods of sampling marine benthic habitats Experimental approaches used in marine benthic ecology Classification and descriptions of benthic invertebrate communities Species adaptations toliving in cohesive and non-cohesive sediments Faunal mediation of ecosystem processes, including benthic-pelqgic coupling microbiol processes and invertebrate microbe interactions and nutrient cycles in marine sediment Effects of species activity on the sediment profile (Bioturbation and Bioirrigation) Functional effect groups Organisim-sediment interactions and sucession Modifying effects of species and environment interactions on species behaviour and ecosystems functioning Anthropogenic stressors in the marine benthos Assessing habitat quality Benthic biodiversity Consequences of altered biodiversity for ecosystems functioning

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: the course deals almost exclusively with the ecology of marine sediments. The formal lectures provide a framework outlining the development of methods for studying the benthos and development of theories that have helped our understanding of benthic processes. Many case study examples are provided. We also include interactive activities, practical demonstrations and discussion inmost formal sessions. In addition the formal lecture series includes a computer practical where students receive instruction on how to use the software PRIMER for analysing ecological data. Informal Class sessions: We will one session at the end of the semester as a feedback and revision sessions. The latter will include opportunities to revisit aspects of the course in more detail and/or to expand on difficult concepts. A wide range of support is available for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Completion of assessment task24
Wider reading or practice30
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Assessment differs depending on degree pathway


MethodPercentage contribution
Audio or Video Recording 20%
Data Analysis 20%
Theory examination  (2.5 hours) 60%

Linked modules

Prerequisites: SOES1006 or SOES1008

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings