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Intro to Marine Biology and the Scientific Method Set of procedures by which scientists learn about the world.

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Presentation on theme: "Intro to Marine Biology and the Scientific Method Set of procedures by which scientists learn about the world."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intro to Marine Biology and the Scientific Method Set of procedures by which scientists learn about the world

2 What is Marine Biology? Marine biology - the study of organisms that live in the sea (this includes all water that has some degree of salinity). Marine biology is not a separate science. It is an applied field of biology and incorporates many other sciences as well such as: – Geology – Chemistry (organic and inorganic) – Physics – Meteorology – Zoology

3 A Marine Biologist is not the same as an Oceanographer Marine Biologists study the organisms that inhabit the sea. (living things) Oceanographers study the physical aspects of the ocean including tides, currents, waves and the chemical make-up of seawater. (non-living environment)

4 Why Study Marine Biology? 1. Since life is believed to have arisen in the sea, studying marine life forms can provide clue about early life on earth. 2. Many products come from the sea including medicines derived from marine species, food resources and other items used for human use (examples: the agar used to culture bacterial samples and carrageanan used thicken dairy products are both derivatives of marine algae).

5 Why Study Marine Biology? 3. The marine environment and its habitats support recreation and tourism worldwide. 4. Marine organisms produce oxygen used by aerobic organisms, including humans.

6 Why Study Marine Biology? 5. Oceans help to regulate climate. (Reason: The ocean is slow to change in temperature because of the sheer volume of water. This keeps land masses near the ocean more stable year-round) Example: Ever notice how the temperature at the coast is 10-15 degrees warmer in the fall compared to inland, but also 10-15 cooler in the summer?

7 Why study marine biology? 6. Marine organisms can cause problems directly to human life or their property. As an example, many power plant facilities use seawater pulled from the ocean or salty rivers to cool internal parts in the power plant. The intake pipes get clogged by marine organisms and the plant must be periodically closed to clear these organisms from the pipes.

8 Why Study Marine Biology? Marine organisms can cause problems directly to human life or their property (continued). Another example: there are microorganisms that can directly affect human health or other organisms such as Pfiesteria.

9 Marine Laboratories Woods Hole Mote Marine Laboratory Univ. Miami - RSMAS UC, Santa Barbara University of Georgia University of Georgia – Odum School of Ecology University of Georgia – Odum School of Ecology Univ. Rhode Island But how did we get here?

10 Historical Context People have studied the ocean for millennia – Food – Shells for trading, monetary value – Fishing tools – harpoons and hooks – Jewelry – Navigation (esp. ancient Pacific Islanders)

11 History of Ocean Exploration ~ 30,000 years ago – eastward migration in Pacific ocean from the area between what is now Australia and China to the Pacific Islands For ~ 25,000 years, Polynesians colonized the islands of the south and western Pacific, from New Guinea in the west to Fiji and Samoa in the middle. Moved to Tahiti and finally Easter Island in the eastern south Pacific. Colonized the Hawaiian Islands about 500 years ago.

12 Fijian Boats

13 Settlement Routes of Pacific Islands Two different forms of the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori show that the human settlement of Australia and the Pacific island was undertaken from different routes. Image: Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology/Achtman

14 Why did they do it? We are not exactly sure… Possibly borrowing, trade, competition, marriage, finding new fishing grounds, exploration, wanderlust, or just inventing new ways of meeting life's challenges

15 How did they do it? Good at making observations and remembering what was observed over generations: – Direction of waves and affect on canoe (rocking, etc) – Ocean currents – Variations in bird and sea life in different places in the Pacific. – Used astronomical observations of the stars to help them navigate across the ocean

16 Mediterranean Sea Exploration began several thousand years ago. Sailors from Egypt, Phoenicia and Crete mapped regional coastlines to establish some of the earliest trading routes. Early Mediterranean civilizations, including the Greeks, have passed down many myths that include gods and goddesses who ruled over nature, such as Poseiden with his triton.

17 Ocean Explorers Aristotle - Described many marine organisms (4 th century BC) Vikings – exploration of N. America (900 – 1000) Columbus – N. America (late 1400s) Magellan – sail around globe (early 1500s) Maps were created as knowledge about the oceans grew.

18 The Age of Discovery Ferdinand Magellan Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator. First European explorer to cross the Pacific Ocean and the first to sail around the world. Palazzo Farnese Caprarola, Italy (Giraudon/Art Resource, NY)

19 The Age of Discovery Captain James Cook HMS Endeavour from Portsmouth, England More than 10 years Cook led three world- encircling expeditions Mapped many countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands. Navigator, cartographer, and scientist One of the first ship captains to recognize that a lack of Vitamin C in sailors’ diets (due mostly to a lack of fresh fruit) caused scurvy. Cook always sailed with lots of pickled cabbage. No scurvy for his crew!

20 James Cook’s Voyages The routes of Captain James Cook's voyages. The first voyage is shown in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of Cook's crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line. (

21 Mid- to late 1700s - ocean currents off the US East Coast, especially the Gulf Stream – Fast-moving current of warm surface water from Florida, along the continental slope off the US East Coast, and eastward across the North America to Europe. – First to call the Gulf Stream a “river in the ocean.” As Deputy Postmaster General of the American colonies, Franklin promoted using the Gulf Stream to speed up delivery of mail from America to Europe and to improve other commercial shipping. Benjamin Franklin, Oceanographer

22 Sir Charles Darwin Tagged along on the HMS Beagle from 1831 - 1836 Geology of the islands and coastlines Proposed a theory about the formation of atolls. HMS Beagle

23 Darwin’s Atoll Formation Atolls - coral reefs that form small islands that enclose a lagoon mostly in the Pacific. Forms from a volcano sinking because of its weight. As the volcano sinks, coral reefs that rim the volcano grow upwards. As long as the rate at which corals grow kept up with how fast the island was sinking, then small coral islands would remain in a ring around the now sunken volcano.

24 Darwin’s Atoll A coral atoll, from Darwin's The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, 1842.

25 Atoll Formation

26 The HMS Challenger Expedition 1872 - 1876 British Navy corvette (a small warship) was converted marine laboratories (biology, chemistry, carbonic acid) with microscopes and other scientific equipment onboard. The expedition was led by British naturalist John Murray and Scottish naturalist Charles Wyville Thompson. laboratories

27 S.C.U.B.A. Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus Jacques Cousteau

28 Sylvia Earle Scientist, author, conservationist 50+ expeditions - +6,000 hrs underwater First all female team to live underwater 1979 woman to go deepest depth before and since 1980s started company to make submersibles 1990s Chief Scientist for NOAA Currently Explorer in Residence for National Geographic Society “I’m haunted by the thought of what Ray Anderson calls ‘tomorrow’s child,’ asking why we didn’t do something on our watch to save sharks and bluefin tuna and squids and coral reefs and the living ocean while there still was time. Well, now is that time.”


30 Equipment used today

31 The Scientific Method

32 Two Ways of Thinking Induction: one uses separate observations to arrive at general principles Deduction: reasoning from general principles to specific conclusions

33 Induction Because sailfish, sharks, and tuna are all fishes, all fishes have gills. General conclusions made on the basis of specific observations.

34 Deduction Suppose a marine biologist used induction to make the general statement: All marine animals have gills. Marine biologist might then reason that if all marine animals have gills and whales are marine animals, then whales must have gills. Specific predictions made by applying general principles.


36 Hypothesis A testable statement created with support of background information There are no absolute truths Scientists speak of accepting a hypothesis, never proving them Testing hypothesis: more confidence can be placed in a hypothesis that has stood up to the hard testing than in an untested one. Suggesting an alternative hypothesis. The nature of scientific proof:

37 Experimental Design Factors affecting observations are variables Controlled vs. Experimental variable(s) Design is critical for effective data collection

38 Getting started Background – Research topic, organisms. Create annotated bibliography. You’ll use it later and thank yourself! Experimental Design – Identify variables. Design experiment before getting started. Data collection protocol critical. Hypothesis – Must be testable with data you collect Data Collection – Consistent and thorough. Notes, notes, notes! Analysis

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