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MB5450 - Molecular Approaches to Marine Ecology and Evolution

Credit points: 3
Year: 2012
Student Contribution Band: Band 4
Administered by: School of Marine & Tropical Biology

Enrolment in this subject is RESTRICTED to all students enrolled in the following awards: Master of Applied Science, Graduate Diploma of Research Methods, Graduate Certificate of Research Methods, Graduate Diploma of Science, Graduate Certificate of Science, Graduate Certificate of Development Practice, Graduate Diploma of Development Practice, Master of Science and Master of Development Practice.

This subject introduces molecular genetic procedures to address topical issues in Marine Ecology and Evolution in the context of recent publications, focussing on marine phylogeography, population genetics, fisheries, marine biodiversity and behavioural genetics. It covers basic genetic techniques (DNA extraction, primer design and choice, PCR, sequencing) and the use of computer programs to manipulate sequence data and to perform genetic database searches and data analyses. It establishes a practical and theoretical basis for molecular genetics research through lectures, discussion papers, hands on bench-work and computer workshops. It puts information into context with respect to current issues relating to coral reef and tropical marine organisms.

Learning Outcomes

  • identify and understand the unique features of the evolutionary history and mechanisms in tropical marine organisms;
  • develop insights into the organization and evolution of nuclear and organellar (mtDNA) genomes and their suitability for systematic and evolutionary studies;
  • familiarity with the principles and practices of molecular genetic studies of evolution - phylogenetics (MP, ML, Bayesian approaches);
  • familiarity with the principles and practices of molecular genetics studies of populations and their application to studies of ecology, biodiversity, behaviour, conservation and management;
  • gain a consolidated understanding of molecular, morphological, ecological and behavioral approaches: an appreciation and awareness of conflicts and how such understanding can be used to improve our ability to resolve challenges in the marine environment.

Graduate Qualities

  • The ability to think critically, to analyse and evaluate claims, evidence and arguments;
  • The ability to define and to solve problems in at least one discipline area;
  • The ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
Students enrolling in this subject should have an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (eg marine biology, biochemistry or genetics) or have acquired equivalent knowledge through other study. They should have an excellent understanding of marine biology, biochemistry and genetics and a good understanding of ecological principles.


Townsville, Study Period 3, Block
Census Date 02-Feb-2012
Face to face teaching 31-Jan-2012 to 09-Feb-2012
Coordinator: Dr Lynne Van Herwerden
Lecturers: Professor Dean Jerry, Dr Carolyn Smith-Keune, Empro John Choat.
Workload expectations:
  • 20 hours lectures
  • 10 hours tutorials
  • 15 hours practicals
  • 15 hours - Computer Workshops
Assessment: presentations (40%); essays (30%); assignments (30%).

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.