Marine Invertebrate Zoology

Instructors: TBD

Overview: Marine invertebrates are members every known animal phylum, and Barkley Sound contains a fantastic diversity of them. In this course, students investigate the zoology of living marine invertebrates: their functional morphology, behaviour, ecology, and phylogenetic relationships. On a tidal schedule, we will conduct inspiring – and intensive – field work to explore a variety of habitats including exposed rocky shores, mudflats, eelgrass beds, and beaches, and to collect a tremendous range of organisms, from Asteriidae to Zoantharia, and everything in between. We will also spend exhilarating – and extensive – time in the lab examining the animals up-close and investigating their comparative morphology and behaviour. Field and lab work will be complemented by activities, discussion, lectures, and primary literature readings.

Research skills: In this course, you will hone rigorous research skills: specifically, the sine qua non of careful field and lab observation, which will spur the formulation of questions and hypotheses, the design of research investigations, and the implementation of independent and group mini-investigations throughout the course. These investigations will sharpen your skills in study design, data collection, data interpretation, and written and oral communication. Throughout, you will practice the ethics of scientific and animal research.

Practical Skills: You will have the opportunity to develop intellectual skills in critical thinking, careful observation, creative problem solving, constructive collaboration, and compelling communication. You will have the opportunity to develop logistical skills in field and laboratory, research techniques, safety practices, small boat handling, and animal care.

Boat Use: You will be given the opportunity to drive boats if you choose to do so. Boat driving is recommended but not required for Marine Invertebrate Zoology. Students who wish to drive boats at BMSC must hold a PCOC and valid first aid certificate and will participate in an introductory boat check-out on the first day of orientation.

Prerequisite: Third or fourth year standing in Biological Sciences, Earth and Ocean Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Resource Management, or equivalent. An introductory course in invertebrate zoology is recommended but not required.

Physical Requirements: This course presents the physical and mental challenges to be expected in a field course in a wilderness environment. It includes many day-trips carrying and using scientific gear at isolated, slippery, seaweed-laden field sites; snorkeling in cold water; longer hikes (3+ hours each way) over rough and muddy forest trails; an overnight backpacking/camping trip (~3 hours round trip hike) – all of which happen regardless of the weather. (As the saying goes…there is no such thing as bad weather…only bad clothing.) Please ensure you are prepared, both physically and mentally, for this level of exertion.

Required Text: Your choice of upper-level invertebrate zoology textbook. Recommended: The most recent editions of Invertebrate Zoology: A Functional Evolutionary Approach (Ruppert, Fox & Barnes, 7th ed., 2003)

or Invertebrates (3rd ed.) 2016  by Brusca RC, Moore, W and Shuster, SM.


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“The Marine Invertebrate Zoology course is populated by students eager to learn about the wonders of invertebrates, and experience more than fulfilled our hopes.

The organisms provide magical moments for everyone from prairie students visiting the ocean for the first time to seasoned coastal denizens. The course focuses on laying the ground work of conducting scientific research: students initiate daily independent investigations, develop weekly research proposals, and conduct independent research projects, all with a focus on asking critical scientific questions.

Bamfield provides an unparalleled location for being completely immersed, both in the ocean itself, and in the extraordinary world of marine invertebrates. Where else do barnacles, crinoids, sea pens, and octopus flourish within easy reach, with frolicking whales and sealions (which are really just overgrown invertebrates) as an added bonus?

Not only do students learn the nuts-and-bolts of what makes the mega-phyla tick, but they have the opportunity to spy into the living world of lesser known groups like tardigrades, sipunculans and brachiopods. To that end, we snorkel in a tide pool, we hike to a cliff-edge lighthouse, we dredge mud from the bottom of the sea, we camp on a remote sandy beach, and we boat throughout the inlets and the islands. We devote uncountable hours both early-morning and late-night to field and lab work, lively lecture and literature discussions, the exploration of organisms and the environment, and the discovery of our scientific potential.”

Registration Details

University of Victoria:
MRNE 410 – Marine Invertebrate Zoology
Credit – 3 units


University of British Columbia
MRNE 410 – Marine Invertebrate Zoology
Credit – 6 units

Registered by your department

Simon Fraser University
MASC 410 – Marine Invertebrate Zoology
Credit – 6 units

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University of Calgary:
MRSC 572 – Marine Invertebrate Zoology
Credit – 6 units

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University of Alberta:
MA Sc 410 – Marine Invertebrate Zoology
Credit – 6 units

Registered by your department