MARINE 303 : Freshwater and Estuarine Ecology


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The structure, biodiversity and ecology of lakes, streams, wetlands and estuaries and linkages with near-shore marine habitats. Emphasis is placed on the role of science in monitoring and managing these ecosystems. Case studies include the impact of Auckland’s urban sprawl on stream, estuarine and near-shore marine habitats, and local estuaries as nurseries for fish.

Course Overview

This course considers the ecological structure and functioning of lakes, streams, wetlands and estuaries, emphasising connections between these systems and with adjacent terrestrial and near-shore marine habitats. Freshwaters and estuaries are highly valuable to humans, but are under considerable stress from our activities, so the course examines the important role of science in monitoring and management. Each year a novel experiment is run in outdoor tanks at the University's Ardmore field station, where we manipulate a model freshwater ecosystem then monitor the responses of key organisms and environmental variables through the semester.  MARINE 303 builds upon knowledge and skills obtained in MARINE 202 and BIOSCI 206, and complements MARINE 302 and BIOSCI 333 and 334. Credits from MARINE 303  count towards BSc majors in Marine Science and Biological Sciences, and the BAdvSci(Hons) specialisation in Marine Science.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from BIOSCI 206, ENVSCI 201, MARINE 202 Restriction: BIOSCI 330

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe how freshwater and estuarine ecosystems work in terms of their underlying physicochemical environments and the organisms living in them (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Explain how freshwaters and estuaries are connected to each other and with adjacent terrestrial and near-shore marine habitats (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Describe current management issues and the role of science in these (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  4. Design , execute, analyse and write up an ecological experiment (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 20% Individual Coursework
Practical 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Final Exam


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Special Requirements

To pass the course you need to pass both the theory (essay and exam combined) and practical components. Each student will visit the University's Ardmore field station twice during the first half of the semester: once with the whole class during week one to help set up an experiment, and once on one of the following four weeks to monitor the experiment (Wednesday afternoons, transport provided). Samples taken during the field trips are preserved and analysed in a laboratory during the second half of the semester.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect about 32 hours of lectures,  18 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 100 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled field trips and labs to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

There is no required text book, but the following is particularly useful:
Harding J, Mosley P, Pearson C, Sorrell B 2004 Freshwaters of New Zealand. New Zealand Hydrological Society Inc. and New Zealand Limnological Society Inc. [577.60993 H25]
A list of articles for optional further reading will be provided for each lecture via Canvas.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

No changes required.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

The plagiarism-detection software Turnitin is used to check all submitted written work.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:52 a.m.