Subject description for 2021/2022

Aquatic biodiversity and Biogeography (BIO5007)

Aquatic biodiversity and Biogeography


Course description

The biodiversity of life in marine and freshwaters will be introduced, including how species rich these environments are compared to land, alternative measures of biodiversity, and why confusion on how many species may exist complicates estimates of extinction rates.


Biogeography is the science of how the Earth’s history and present environment determines speciation, habitat diversity and biodiversity patterns. It provides both a theoretical basis for understanding how biodiversity evolved and has applications in deciding where to have nature reserves, the spread of invasive species, and predicting the effects of climate change.


Key theories, hypotheses, rules and concepts presented include: Island Biogeography, continental drift, connectivity, dispersal, geneflow, Mid-domain model, Rapport’s, Bejernick’s (= Bass -Becking), endemicity, realms, biomes, ecosystems, habitats, deep-sea diversity, environmental niche, effects and causes of mass extinctions.


How leading biodiversity informatics resources have developed and can be used, including the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Ocean Biodiversity Information System, FishBase and AquaMaps, will be explained. Practical exercises will involve students using these resources to study selected species they are interested in, e.g., if threatened, charismatic, important food species, pest species, keystone.  Use of categorical data analysis methods, such as multi-variate cluster and neural network analyses, will be demonstrated.


No special costs except semester registration fee and course litterature.

Learning outcomes


Students will be familiar with the

  • diversity of life in marine and freshwater environments, biogeographic theory and concepts,
  • potential and limitations of biodiversity informatics resources for research and management.



  • Students will know how to apply understanding of how biodiversity is maintained to nature conservation and invasive species management,
  • including projections of how climate change will affect biodiversity and biogeography.


General Competence:

  • Students will be able to explain and apply key theories and concepts in biodiversity and biogeography, and
  • to analyse online biodiversity databases for research and information management.

Course type

Master in bioscience: Specialization course for marine ecology

Elective course for other specializations


Admission to the course requires the same qualifications as admission to the Master of Science in Biosciences.

Mode of delivery

Lectures and practical assignments involving analyses of biogeographic data.

Teaching activities and methods

Lectures and practical assignments involving analyses of biogeographic data.

Course evaluation

Mid-term oral evaluation with written report, electronic evaluation at the end of the semester.

Exam description

Written exam 60%.

Practical assignment 40%. 

Assessment and examinations

Compound evaluation, grading scale A-E for pass, F for fail
  • Practical examination -, comprises 40/100 of the grade, grading scale A-E for pass, F for fail.
  • Written Examination, comprises 60/100 of the grade, grading scale A-E for pass, F for fail.

Course literature

Brown JH, Lomolino MV. 1998. Biogeography. Sinauer. xii+ 691 pp. ISBN 0 87893 073 6.

Costello M.J. 2015. Biodiversity: the known, unknown and rates of extinction. Current Biology 25 (9), R368-R371.

Costello MJ, Chaudhary C. 2017. Marine biodiversity, biogeography, deep-sea gradients, and conservation. Current Biology 27, R511-R527.

Course coordinator
Start semester Spring 2022
ECTS Credits 5 Course location Bodø Faculty
Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture