The Biology and Ecology of Fishes
Last Updated: 02/25/2010
Faculty: Amy Cook fish biology, ecology
Major areas of study include fish anatomy and physiology, environmental studies, and the ecology of freshwater and marine ecosystems.
Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 50% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.
Fishes are among the most diverse group of vertebrates from the standpoint of morphology, physiology and behavior and they play an important role in the ecology of both marine and freshwater systems. As a key source of protein in many human cultures and one of the last organisms that we hunt in the wild, fishes have faced increasing pressure from humans. In this program we will focus on the biology of fishes and some of the ways that fish populations are affected by human activities.
In both lab and lecture, students will learn about the morphology and physiology of fishes. We will look at the taxonomy of fishes and find out why the question “What is a fish?” is so difficult to answer. Through both freshwater and marine ecology we will examine the role that fishes play in ecosystems throughout the world through trophic (feeding) interactions, competition and symbiosis. Fishes demonstrate a broad range of behaviors. In the program we will focus on feeding, reproductive and social behavior, and how these interact with a fish’s morphology and ecology.
Through fishing, pollution, introduction of exotic species and habitat degradation, humans have had a major influence on fish populations worldwide. We will look at these effects on fish populations and talk about the mechanisms by which fishes and their habitats may be preserved.
In seminar we will discuss recent papers from scientific literature on fishes and some of the papers that have presented key concepts in the history of ichthyology. We will read about people who have made important contributions in the field and discuss what it means to be a scientist in both academic and applied settings, such as fisheries. Students will be expected to do a final paper on a particular fish species, well-grounded in the primary literature, and to make a presentation to the class.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Special Expenses: $23 for Point Defiance Zoo admission
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in vertebrate biology, fish biology, fisheries, environmental studies and ecology.