Offered to students admitted to Year 1 in ALL
Major/Minor ALL
Course Type
Offer in 2023 - 2024 Y N
Course Code BIOL3328
Date2024/06/23 21:42
Enquiry for Course Details
BIOL3328 Nearshore marine and estuarine ecology (6 credits) Academic Year 2023
Offering Department Biological Sciences Quota 10
Course Co-ordinator Prof G.A. Williams, Biological Sciences < hrsbwga@hku.hk >
Teachers Involved (Prof G.A. Williams,School of Biological sciences)
Course Objectives Using a comparative approach between Hong Kong and South African shores, students will learn to identify the relevant environmental gradients which define the intertidal zone, and the species interactions which mould these communities.  
This will be achieved through an intensive field-based approach, visiting and working in different intertidal habitats in both Hong Kong and, during a residential fieldcamp, in South Africa.
Course Contents & Topics Students will learn the abiotic and biotic factors that structure intertidal communities in Hong Kong and, during a residential fieldcamp, different South African intertidal communities.  In South Africa, specific topics will focus on
(1) Intertidal biodiversity and species interactions
(2) Species distribution patterns on intertidal shores
(3) Species interactions and behaviour
(4) Trophic interactions and connectivity between local terrestrial and marine communities.
(5) Larger-scale connectivity from freshwaters to marine systems
HKU Students will work in groups with students from the University of Johannesburg and North West University, South Africa to collect data; design and carry out experiments; present their findings; and write up formal scientific reports on the different topics.
Note individual topics may change in different years and are weather dependent.
Course Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

CLO 1 compare the contrast the shallow water coastal environments of Hong Kong and the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa
CLO 2 identify a range of species and their roles and relationships in the intertidal zone
CLO 3 understand the abiotic conditions defining the intertidal environment and quantify and interpret the distribution of species over relevant environmental gradients
CLO 4 design, execute and analyse experiments to investigate species interactions
CLO 5 integrate abiotic and biotic interactions to determine patterns of connectivity between intertidal habitats
CLO 6 analyse, interpret and present data using a variety of media to demonstrate scientific understanding of topics
Pre-requisites
(and Co-requisites and
Impermissible combinations)
Pass in BIOL2306 or BIOL3301
Course Status with Related Major/Minor /Professional Core 2023 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Minor in Marine Biology ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Minor in Marine Biology ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Minor in Marine Biology ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Minor in Marine Biology ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Minor in Marine Biology ( Disciplinary Elective )
Course to PLO Mapping 2023 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity < PLO 1,3,4,5,6,7 >
2023 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4,5,6 >
2022 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity < PLO 1,3,4,5,6,7 >
2022 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4,5,6 >
2021 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity < PLO 1,3,4,5,6,7 >
2021 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4,5,6 >
2020 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity < PLO 1,3,4,5,6,7 >
2020 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4,5,6 >
2019 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity < PLO 1,3,4,5,6,7 >
2019 Major in Ecology & Biodiversity (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4,5,6 >
Offer in 2023 - 2024 Y        2nd sem    Examination No Exam     
Offer in 2024 - 2025 Y
Course Grade A+ to F
Grade Descriptors
A Thorough and complete grasp of the subject. Strong analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, with evidence of original thought. Excellent lab / fieldwork skills and techniques. Critical use of data and results to draw appropriate and insightful conclusions. Excellent organizational and presentational skills
B Good and near-complete grasp of the subject. Evidence of analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking. Competent lab / fieldwork skills and techniques. Correct use of data of results to draw appropriate conclusions. Good organizational and presentational skills.
C Adequate (but incomplete) grasp of the subject. Evidence of some analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking. Adequate lab / fieldwork skills and techniques. Mostly correct but some erroneous use of data and results to draw appropriate conclusions. Fair organizational and presentational skills.
D Limited grasp, with retention of some relevant information, of the subject. Evidence of some coherent and logical thinking, but with limited analytical and critical abilities. Barely adequate lab / fieldwork skills and techniques. Limited ability to use data and results to draw appropriate conclusions. Barely satisfactory organizational and presentational skills.
Fail Poor or inadequate knowledge and understanding of the subject. Lack of analytical and critical abilities, logical and coherent thinking. Inadequate lab / fieldwork skills and techniques. Misuse of data and results and/or unable to draw appropriate conclusions. Incoherent organization and poor presentational skills.
Communication-intensive Course N
Course Type Field camps
Course Teaching
& Learning Activities
Activities Details No. of Hours
Field work 60
Lectures Pre-course modules 8
Tutorials Pre-course assignments 10
Reading / Self study 50
Assessment Methods
and Weighting
Methods Details Weighting in final
course grade (%)
Assessment Methods
to CLO Mapping
Assignments Group presentation 30 CLO 3,4,5,6
Report 60 CLO 1,2,3,4,5,6
Test Pre-course 10 CLO 1,2,6
Required/recommended reading
and online materials
Students will be directed to relevant scientific literature, websites and appropriate teaching materials.
Course Website http://moodle.hku.hk
Additional Course Information Students who have taken BIOL3318 will be at an advantage.
Students will join undergraduate students from the University of Johannesburg and North Western University, South Africa on a residential field camp at Tsitsikamma (Storms River Camp, Eastern Province, South Africa) in the second Reading Week (Second Semester).  Students will be expected to live in tented accommodation and contribute to daily camp activities as well as conduct fieldwork in potentially harsh environmental conditions.  Extra costs may be involved in the course, which may include airfares.  Accommodation, meal costs and internal travel in South Africa are covered by South African hosts.
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