Aquatic Ecology


To know the main groups of organisms that are part of the aquatic communities and their adaptations to the pelagic and benthic environment. The physical, chemical and biological factors that structure the communities of the aquatic environments. Productivity and seasonal variation. Trophic relationships, competition, predation and recruitment.

To understand the functioning of ecological systems 

1) freshwaters: rivers lakes and reservoirs, 2) transition waters and oceans: estuaries, coastal zones and the open ocean, 3) Wetlands

Recognize the importance of aquatic ecosystems and of their conservation and the actual state of disturbance at the global level, understand the threats which pend upon them and future tendencies.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Marta Susana Silvestre Gouveia Martins


Weekly - 4

Total - 69

Teaching language





Allan, J.D. e M.M. Castillo (2008). Stream EcologyStructure and Function ofRunning Waters, 2nd ed. Springer. Cushing, C.E. e J.D. Allan, 2001. StreamsTheir Ecology and LifeAcademicPress, San Diego. Closs, G., B. Downes, e A. Boulton, 2004. Freshwater Ecology: a ScientificIntroductionBlackwell Publishing, Oxford.  Dobson, M. e Frid, C., 2009.  Ecology of aquatic systems. OUP, Oxford. Dodds, W.K., 2010. Freshwater EcologyConcepts and EnvironmentalApplications, 2nd ed. Academic Press, San Diego  Baiser, M., 2005. Marine Ecology: processes systems and impacts. Oxford University Press, Oxford Levinton, J. 2009. 

Teaching method

Basic concepts of aquatic ecology relative to physical and chemical charateristics of fresh and salt waters as well as transition waters will be introduced in the first lectures, supported by the avialable literature and educational slides and vídeos. Students will be called to participate and intervene posing questions, as a way to develop critical thinking towards a solid knowledge. Labs will include experimental labwork and an oral presentation about aquatic ecology chosen by the students.

Teaching methodology is focused in stimulating the student´s autonomy and curiosity, closely aligned with the subject “Creative Project”.

Assessment - individual assessment through quizzes with multiple choice and open questions about the studied ecosystems; group work is evaluated through the presentation and discussion of a lab report in the format of a scientific paper, reflecting the hands-on component of the learning outcomes.

Evaluation method

This CU comprises a theoretical component of 1h/week and a practical component of 3h/week.

Frequency is based on regular presence at practical classes, with mandatory attendance in at least 3/4 of the classes.

Approval is continuous and each component (theoretical and practical) has 50% of weight in the final classification. Each component must have a score of ≥9.5 values.

Theoretical component is evaluated by the average of 2 tests. Theoretical tests are carried out in person.

Laboratory practical component is evaluated by the average of 2 practical group assignments (40% each) and the students'''' participation on labwork (20%). Written works are delivered on the CU moodle page. 

Subject matter

Aquatic ecosystems. Global importance and services.

The aquatic environment. Physics and chemistry of water. Hydrodynamics, salinity, temperature, light and nutrients. Biogenic sediments.

Pelagic communities. Adaptation to life in water. Phytoplankton, zooplankton and nekton.

Benthic communities.

Marine communities and sedimentary processes.

Periphyton and macrophytes. Macroinvertebrates.

Aquatic ecosystems. Rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Estuaries, rocky and soft-bottom shores, coral reefs, the open ocean. Wetlands, temporary streams and ponds, hydrothermal vents, salt lakes, artificial systems.

Impacts and sustainability. Present situation and trends.

Marine Protected Areas and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.


Programs where the course is taught: