UWA Handbook 2017

Unit details

ANIM4007 Marine Megafauna

Credit 6 points
  Offering
(see Timetable)
AvailabilityLocationMode
Not available in 2017UWA (Perth)Face to face
Content This unit provides an introduction to the biology of marine megafauna, with an emphasis on dolphins and whales, but including other mammals, large sharks and turtles. It will cover the zoogeography of marine megafauna, including the morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations that have enabled them to colonize the world's oceans and some freshwater systems. The unit discusses the physiological and behavioural complexity behind their movement, foraging, reproduction and social dynamics; and the life-history strategies adapted by different species to challenging environments.

The unit then explores four topical issues within the fields of ecology, behaviour and conservation: (1) fisheries and marine megafauna—discuss the historical to contemporary contexts of fishery-megafauna interactions, commercial sealing and whaling, through current issues of incidental capture in fisheries and ongoing hunting; (2) tourism and marine megafauna—discuss the rise of nature-based tourism and the current discourse on marine mammals in captivity; (3) anthropogenic sound and marine mammals—focuses on wildlife management and discuss current environmentally and politically focused issues, such as the effects of coastal development and military sonar on protected marine mammal species, and the tools and techniques we can use to quantify impacts, and; (4) social learning and culture in marine mammals—evaluatea the definitions of culture, accumulated evidence for culture in animals, from fish to birds, primates and cetaceans, what evolutionary factors contribute to cetacean culture, and how the cultural lives of complex societies might affect conservation policy.
Outcomes Students are able to (1) have a good understanding of the latest research and management issues around marine megafauna, particularly the mitigation of human impacts on endangered, threatened and protected species; (2) process information on challenging human-wildlife conflicts and present this (orally) to their peers; (3) critically evaluate one of four topical issues pertinent to marine megafauna based on scientific evidence and industry needs, then present management recommendations in a report to regulators; and (4) succinctly summarise a topical issue in the form of an opinion piece for a scientific paper.
Assessment Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) oral presentation in the form of a student-led seminar; (2) scientific report with management recommendations (approximately 4000 words); and (3) opinion piece for a scientific paper (approximately 2500 words). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s) Dr Simon Allen and Dr Stephanie King
Unit rules
Prerequisites: enrolled in the Master of Biological Science
Advisable prior study: This unit assumes a strong background/understanding in biology and/or ecology and/or conservation.
Contact hours 40 hours (lectures: 16 x 1 hour; workshops (student-led seminar series): 8 x 3 hours. Preparation times for each workshop, presentations and student learning time devoted to preparing the two written assessment pieces will equate to approximately 150 hours in total.

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