Potential Research Topics

Field Methods in Marine Ecology BIOL 4100

Here are just a few ideas of research projects that you might carry out during the field course in Bamfield. You are not limited to these ideas, you can also come up with ideas of your own. Try to work out 3 different ideas of potential projects for the course. Then, once in Bamfield, you can decide which seems most promising and feasible.

  • Do animals living in subtidal, low intertidal and upper intertidal habitats have different levels of tolerance to environmental stresses (temperature, desiccation, UV radiation)?
  • What is the relationship between species diversity and exposure to wave action?
  • What are the effects of light intensity and nutrient concentration on phytoplankton growth rate?
  • When exposed during low tides, are upper intertidal algae better at preventing water loss than low intertidal or subtidal algae?
  • Refuge size from predators: do mussels grow big enough to outgrow their predators (e.g. seastars)?
  • How effective are drifting algal mats as dispersal agents for benthic animals?
  • Island biogeography: does species diversity in tidepools increase with tidepool size?
  • Do intertidal animals become more tolerant to environmental stresses as they grow larger?
  • What is are the preferred prey size and prey species of shore crabs?
  • Are algae from wave-protected habitats less palatable to herbivores than algae from wave-exposed habitats (where there are fewer herbivores)?
  • Shell selection by hermit crabs: do hermit crabs prefer to live in intact shells rather than damaged shells?
  • Do mussels, snails, barnacles… alter their feeding behaviour in the presence of a predator to reduce their vulnerability?
  • Is the lower limit of vertical distribution of the intertidal snail Littorina determined by predation?
  • What are the effects of reduced salinity on the survival and growth of barnacle larvae?
  • Is barnacle fecundity (i.e. number of larvae produced) influenced by wave exposure?
  • Given that barnacles are hermaphrodites with internal fertilization, how far does a barnacle have to be from other barnacles to prevent fertilization (and therefore the production of larvae)?
  • Escape responses: how do snails respond to odours of their predators?
  • How does sediment type affect the burrowing rate of a clam?
  • Swimming behaviour of zooplankton: what cues do zooplankton use to direct them in their swimming (light, gravity)?
  • Do zooplankton located at the surface at night respond differently to light than those at the surface during the day?
  • Is swimming behaviour of zooplankton influenced by the proximity of a predator?
  • What are the effects of light, temperature and nutrient availability on phytoplankton species composition?
  • What are the effects of temperature and salinity on the swimming behaviour of cnidarian medusae?