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MB5400 - Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals

Credit points: 3
Year: 2023
Student Contribution Band: Band 2
Administered by: College of Science and Engineering

Available to postgraduate science students. A quota will apply on the basis of undergraduate marks

An introduction to the biology of corals and physiological processes involved in building reefs. An overview of the life histories of sessile, modular organisms, incorporating current research findings with respect to reproductive strategies and early life histories, algal symbiosis, and the evolutionary biology of corals. Aspects of the functional morphology and physiology of corals will be explored in relation to major issues impacting coral reefs, particularly bleaching and disease. A 2 day field trip to Orpheus Island Research Station will include an introduction to the taxonomy of reef-building corals and to lab and field research methods for the study of reef corals. The subject complements MB5190. Students will be required to attend lectures and practicals for MB3210.

Learning Outcomes

  • understand life history theory of modular organisms using reef corals as a model;
  • gain knowledge of the anatomical features and physiological specialisations of corals that are keys to understanding how corals build reefs;
  • gain awareness of issues underlying long-term conservation and management of reef corals;
  • gain a working knowledge of the identification and classification of the major families and genera of reef-building corals;
  • develop skills required for independent research through lab and field exercises involving literature reviews, data collection, data analyses and critical interpretation;
  • develop skills required to communicate research findings in oral presentations.

Subject Assessment

  • Written > Examination (centrally administered) - (40%) - Individual
  • Tutorial participation/ discussions 10% Oral Presentation 10% - (20%) - Individual
  • Written > Field report - (20%) - Individual
  • Written Lab/Prac Report 10% Lab/Prac Quizzes 10% - (20%) - Individual.
Students enrolling in this subject should have an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline or have acquired equivalent knowledge through other study. They should have an excellent understanding of biometrics, ecological principles and invertebrate biology, and should have completed SC5202 or equivalent.
MB3210 MB3219 MB3330 MB5550


Townsville, Study Period 1, Internal
Census Date 23-Mar-2023
Coord/Lect: Professor David Bourne.
Workload expectations:

The student workload for this 3 credit point subject is approximately 130 hours.

  • 13 hours lectures
  • 30 hours was Practicals
  • 3 hours workshops
  • 16 hours fieldwork
  • assessment and self-directed study
Restrictions: An enrolment quota applies to this offering.

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.