Marine Population Biology

EMBC+ MODULE 1: Understanding the structure and function of Marine Biodiversity

Estimation of abundance in the marine environment. Closed vs open populations. Absolute density: total count, line transect methods, distance sampling, estimates based on spatial distribution. Mark-recapture methods: single marking, multiple mark. Catch-effort methods. Change in ratio methods. Depletion methods. Swept area methods. Stratification.
Spatio-temporal dynamics of marine animals. Tagging, mark-recapture methods. Acoustic telemetry. Satellite tags. Mapping of home ranges and territories. Case studies: Ria Formosa sea breams; use of Algarve artificial reefs by wild and restocked (cultured) sea breams.
Population biology of clonal organisms, exemplified with seagrasses: seagrass architecture, clonal growth and branching, space occupation; adaptive value of architecture and clonal growth; seagrass reproduction. Population dynamics of seagrasses: life span, shoot demography; reconstruction of seagrass population dynamics.
Genetic approaches to studying marine clonal populations. Probabilities of equal genotypes in the population. Estimating and describing spatial patterns of clonal structure and differentiation. Consequences of genotypic versus genetic diversity. Spatial autocorrelation.
Population consequences of varying reproductive modes. Fertilization strategies in marine invertebrates and algae. Mating systems. Allee effect.
Marine population connectivity. Local vs supply-side recruitment. Major questions, processes and biological traits that influence larval/propagule dispersal in the sea. Approaches for the understanding of small and large scale dispersal in marine populations. Genetic and chemical signatures as tools to infer dispersal patterns.
Seascape genetics and metapopulations. Understanding effects of currents, distance and habitat fragmentation on marine population connectivity. Marine dispersal boundaries and marginal populations. Population genetic signatures of migrations and range shifts in marine species.
Invasive marine populations. Tracking dispersal routes and mechanisms using population genetic information.
Seminars by guest speakers (different each year).
Analysis of selected papers on marine population biology and conservation (papers to download are made available at the tutorial website and are read before the class)
Field sampling to develop mark-recapture abundance estimates in pipefish followed by mark-recapture exercises.
Practical exercises about telemetry.
Measurements and analyses of seagrass population demographic reconstruction
Field sampling of marine invertebrates and algae at a marine park on the southwest Portuguese coast.
Field trip to watch and learn about cetaceans at a Marine Park area.
Interpretation of results from genetic data obtained in field work various marine organisms.

marine population demography, marine population genetics

Some basic understanding of population dynamics and population genetics is desirable but not required, as well as basic understanding of the diversity of life histories of marine organisms.


Understanding population biology of marine organisms with contrasting life histories. Relating life histories with population dynamics and population genetics parameters and with intra and interspecific interactions. Understanding the implications of population biology for management and conservation of marine populations.