Life in the Oceans in the Anthropocene and Beyond|
Spring 2021 not offered
CIS 160, BIOL 160|
Little is known about life in the deep sea, the largest habitat on Earth, even about the largest animals living there, such as the giant squid. Humans, however, are severely affecting even these most remote areas of our planet, and wildlife populations in the oceans have been badly damaged by human activity. We will look at the amazing diversity of ocean life and the disparate building plans of its animals, and see how oceanic ecosystems are fundamentally different from land ecosystems. Then we will explore how human actions are affecting oceanic ecosystems directly, for instance by overfishing (especially of large predators and filter feeders), addition of nutrients (eutrophication) and pollutants, and the spread of invasive species, as well as indirectly, through emission of carbon compounds into the atmosphere. Rising atmospheric CO2 levels lead to ocean acidification and global warming, affecting the all-important metabolic rates of ocean life, as well as oceanic oxygen levels and stratification, thus productivity. We will try to predict the composition of future ecosystems by looking at ecosystem changes during periods of rapid warming in the geological past and see whether future ecosystems will become dominated by jellyfish, as they were 600 million years ago.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None