Time: check here
Place: Learning Lab, Education Dept. New England Aquarium (NEAq)
THE LEARNING LAB IS ACROSS FROM THE AQUARIUM MAIN BUILDING (under the parking garage), AND NOT IN THE AQUARIUM MAIN BUILDING
OUR ENTRANCE IS ON THE HARBOR SIDE, FARTHEST CORNER AWAY FROM THE AQUARIUM MAIN BUILDING
Instructor: Rae Barnhisel, Ph.D., Marine Studies Consortium, Phone/Fax: 603-878-3671; Email: drbfishes at comcast.net
Office hours: By appt. before and after class.
Teaching Assistants: NEAq Aquarists,
Required 1. Fishes: An Introduction to Ichthyology, by P.B. Moyle and J.J Cech, Jr., 2004, 5th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ
EARLIER EDITIONS OF MOYLE AND CECH ARE ADEQUATE FOR PURPOSES OF THE COURSE
AND CAN BE PURCHASED AT A DISCOUNT FROM INTERNET BOOKSELLERS
Recommended 2. Encyclopedia of Fishes, edited by J.R. Paxton and W.N. Eschmeyer, 1998, 2nd ed., Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Administrator: Roger Stern, Exec. Director., Marine Studies Consortium; Phone: 781-444-3643; Email: rstern at princeton.edu
For Possible Cancellations (due to inclement weather):
check Weather Alert.
Cancellations will also be aired on WCVB Channel 5 and
announced by voice message at 781-444-3643
Biology of Fishes is designed for upper-level undergraduates well versed in biological and chemical principles.
The 300-level course builds on the student's knowledge of vertebrate biology in order to explore and appreciate the
differences and diversity among fishes. The course combines traditional ichthyology such as systematics, taxonomy,
anatomy, and distribution with fish ecology including species interactions, adaptations, behavior, and conservation.
It emphasizes the phylogenetic relationships among fishes and the use of systematics as an organizational tool.
Each week, we focus on a particular group or groups of fishes, starting with those that have the longest evolutionary
history to those that we think have most recently evolved. While other fish courses focus on systematics as a
separate lecture topic, this course spends every week examining both systematics and phylogeny in terms of anatomy, physiology, behavior, and ecology.
We first focus on ancestral fishes and analyze the link between anatomy and phylogeny and the importance of viewing
fishes as an early vertebrate rather than as a distinct paraphyletic group. Second, we focus on more derived fish
groups and look at physiology and sensory capabilities. Third, we shift attention to fishes that are the most derived
and look at reproduction, life history strategies, and evolutionary adaptations. We conclude with conservation and
management issues and problem solving. Students learn to use phylogeny and systematics to develop coherent hypotheses
addressing vertebrate evolution and conservation.
The Biology of Fishes course has been taught since 1997 and is one of few university-level courses taught at a major aquarium.
The course meets once a week on Tuesday evenings for 15 weeks. Class will include a lecture on a relevant topic
and often a related activity. Most class meetings will consist of a tour through the aquarium to view and sketch
specific fishes. Students are asked to provide their own clipboard and colored pencils for sketching live fish.
Grades are calculated according to a 1000 point scheme based on a student's best scores on three of four exams,
a written report evaluating a current issue involving a fish or fishery; aquarium and laboratory activities, an
interpretive tour of the NEAq's fishes, and meeting deadlines and participation expectations.
Grading Scheme Points
Aquarium/Laboratory Activities 300
Written Report 200
Interpretive Tour 150
Exams are short-answer and designed to assess how a student integrates, relates, and synthesizes information. The
written report provides students with an opportunity to conduct independent inquiry on a self-chosen topic and gain
experience in writing.
Aquarium and laboratory activities provide weekly opportunities for developing observational skills and interacting
with peers and aquarists. The interpretive tour asks students to highlight a single character or habitat that encompasses
a wide range of phylogenetically diverse fish and develop a virtual tour of those fishes using the New England Aquarium.
This summary assignment tests students on their understanding of phylogenetic systematic tools and terminology and how
to apply them to a collection of fishes.
Low-cost texts can be obtained through the Internet. The most current edition is preferable
but past editions are sufficient. Each student will receive a NEAq entry badge that allows
entry into the main building during normal aquarium hours for the duration of the semester.
Students are asked to return the badges at the end of the course. Student fees are collected
to cover overhead costs of materials, equipment, adjunct personnel, and the field trip.
Parking at the New England Aquarium (NEAq) is expensive and limited. Public transportation
is the best option for arriving on time.
There will be a field trip to Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology Fishes Collection
in Cambridge, MA, on a Sunday morning in April. The trip is highly recommended and strongly encouraged.
Students will have access to collections and resources not available to the general public.
Students are asked to learn basic and advanced terminology. The course emphasizes
both a precise and concise use of words and concepts.
Students are expected to be on time for class and attend every class meeting.
The course requires adherence to all academic standards of conduct. In all verbal and
writing assignments, you may use another person's ideas or words ONLY if you credit
that person. Using another person's ideas or words without crediting or referencing
that person is plagiarism and punishable by law as well as by your academic institution.
A wonderful part of this course is that it is held at one of the leading aquaria in the US.
This gives us access to its spectacular collection of fishes, which is cared for by devoted
aquarists. Most ichthyology courses rely mostly on preserved specimens that have
lost their color, form, and behavior.
At the NEAq we can see thousands of fish in full color of health. We can observe their behavior,
and literally see their diversity. We can focus on one or two taxonomic groups at a time each
week and observe live representatives. We can go behind the scenes to see how the fish are
maintained, raised, and conserved.
NEAq has other obligations besides education and so functions differently than the average
college or university department. Special money-making events that are essential to the NEAq's
financial health are often organized at the last minute. Room schedule changes and conflicts
can occur, sometimes with little communication among NEAq staff.
As a result, the Biology of Fishes course must be flexible and often
spontaneous in the order of things. Restricted access to the main building may result in changes
to our schedule and plans.
NOTE: If a student is unable to meet an expectation, they must contact the professor as far in advance as possible
to discuss alternatives. If this is not done beforehand, formal
documentation of the sickness, accident, emergency, etc., must be submited to avoid penalties. This syllabus
represents a contract of expectations between student and professor.
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