Core Courses | Ocean Electives | Aquatic & Fishery Sciences Electives | Biology Electives | Integrative Experience | Other Courses

The following courses make up the requirements for the minor in marine biology and show the diversity of topics and perspectives covered in the marine biology program.

Core Courses

fhllabsFISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 Marine Biology

Faculty: C. Friedman, UW Campus

Lecture-laboratory course in marine biology focusing on physical, biological, and social aspects of the marine environment. Topics include oceanography, ecology, physiology, behavior, conservation, fisheries, exploration, and activism. Evening marine biology movies and weekend field trip. Honors section research project.

Faculty: E. Carrington, Friday Harbor Laboratories Campus

This course also is offered fall quarter at the Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) as part of the Marine Biology Quarter. Students live at the FHL facilities on San Juan Island and take this course along with two others.

This course focuses on the incredible diversity of organisms inhabiting the marine environment. During the quarter students take a broad tour through the plants and animals of the marine realm (plankton, seaweeds, invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals), exploring how these organisms have adapted to life under water. Numerous field and laboratory exercises will expose students to common marine biological techniques and to the diverse marine communities common to Washington’s San Juan Islands. (Note: this course fulfills a core requirement of the Marine Biology minor for University of Washington students.) Prerequisite: at least one quarter of introductory biology (more is preferable). Enrollment limited to 16 students.

fhllabsOCEAN 210 Ocean Circulation

Faculty: P. Quay, A. Summers

The large-scale circulation of the ocean. Topics include temperature-salinity analysis; water mass identification; water, salt, and heat budgets; chemical tracer distributions; advection and diffusion. Prerequisite: either Ocean 101 or Ocean 200; recommended: either PHYS 114 or PHYS 121.

fhllabsBIOL 180 Introductory Biology

Faculty: Varies

For students intending to take advanced courses in the biological sciences or enroll in preprofessional programs. Mendelian genetics, evolution, biodiversity of life forms, ecology, conservation biology. First course in a three-quarter series (BIOL 180, BIOL 200, BIOL 220). Cannot be taken for credit if BIOL 203 has already been taken. Prerequisite: either CHEM 150, CHEM 152, CHEM 155, CHEM 220, CHEM 223, or CHEM 237.

Biology 161 will replace Biology 180 for the minor's introductory biology requirement for students who took this course at UW before it was cancelled in 2008 and for transfer students who take an equivalent of Biology 161 at another college or institution.

Q SCI 381 Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Faculty: Varies

Applications to biological and natural resource problems stressing the formulation and interpretation of statistical tests. Random variables, expectations, variances, binomial, hypergeometric, Poisson, normal, chi-square, "t" and "F" distributions. Prerequisite: either MATH 120, MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 144, or Q SCI 291, or a minimum score of 2 on advanced placement test, or a minimum score of 67% on MATHPC placement test.


Approved Electives


fhllabsOCEAN 220 Introduction to Field Oceanography

Faculty: R. Morris

Design and conduct a field study in oceanography. Field trip required (usually during spring break). Focus on active learning, deployment of instruments, data collection, interpretation, and presentation. Honors section incorporates additional field experimentation and study in marine biology. Writing class. Prerequisite: either OCEAN 210 or OCEAN/FISH/BIOL 250. 

fhllabsOCEAN 430 Biological Oceanography

Faculty: R. Morris, M. Dethier

Marine organisms, their quantitative distribution in time and space and their interactions with the ocean. Prerequisite: either BIOL 162, or BIOL 220; OCEAN 210.

fhllabsOCEAN 431 Special Topics in Biological Oceanography

Faculty: J. Baross

Current “hot” topics in Biological Oceanography including ocean acidification and climate change effects on organisms including marine pathogens and emerging diseases, introduced species, marine viruses, novel phototrophs, implications from the discovery of a very high diversity of physiologically unknown microbes in marine environments (census of marine microbes), and astrobiology.  Other topics include environmental ethics and hydrothermal vent biology to discuss symbiosis, animal physiology, larval forms and dispersal, and biogeography. 

fhllabsOCEAN 442 Oceanography of the Puget

Faculty: R. Keil

Explores the role of oceanography in regional issues. Field opportunities and active investigation of applied oceanographic problems. Lectures, research trip, student co-teaching, discussion. Prerequisite: either CHEM 152, CHEM 221, BIOL 162, BIOL 220, ESS 101, or ESS 210. 

fhllabsOCEAN 454 Hydrothermal Systems: An Interdisciplinary View

Faculty: M. Lilley

Provides a general, interdisciplinary overview of seafloor hydrothermal systems including important geological, chemical and biological processes. Topics include tectonic and volcanic controls on hydrothermal systems, water/rock reactions, phase separation, temporal variability, fluxes to the deep sea, micro- and macro biology. 

fhllabsOCEAN 492 Friday Harbor Apprenticeship

Intensive, full-time research training experience where teams of students work on focused research problems guided by a group of faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student mentors. Research questions vary.


Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

fhllabsFISH 310 Biology of Shellfishes

Faculty: C. Friedman, S. Roberts

Commercially important mollusks, crustaceans, and other harvested invertebrates highlighted with respect to systematics, anatomy, reproductive strategies, feeding, and growth. Examples of species that demonstrate variability in recruitment and complex life cycles. Laboratories, field trips. Recommended: 10 credits biological science.

fhllabsFISH 311 Biology of Fishes

Faculty: T. Pietsch, A. Summers

Lecture and laboratory of the morphological, physiological, behavioral, and ecological diversity of fishes of the world; designed to provide a basic foundation for advanced courses in all areas of finfish fisheries. 3-credit option does not include laboratory. Recommended: 10 credits biological science. Offered: jointly with BIOL 311.

fhllabsFISH 312 Fisheries Ecology

Faculty: T. Quinn

Ecological characteristics of fishes and shellfishes in the important freshwater and marine habitats of North America. Relationship between physical aspects of the habitats and community structure. Impacts of human activities on diversity and abundance. Prerequisite: either BIOL 162 or 220; recommended: FISH 210; FISH 311.

fhllabsFISH 323 Conservation and Management of Aquatic Resources

Faculty: R. Hilborn

Topics include population growth rates, extinction risk, dynamics of populations at low densities, meta-populations, marine reserves, endangered species classification, sustainable harvesting and management institutions. Examines case studies such as salmon, albatross and whales as representative of conservation issues in aquatic sciences. Sampling, experimental design, computer skills, and research writing.

fhllabsFISH 324 Aquatic Animal Physiology and Reproduction

Faculty: G. Young

Adaptations of aquatic animals to environmental challenges. Energy pathways from feeding and digestion through maintenance (metabolism, movement, repair), homeostasis (respiration, osmoregulation, thermoregulation), growth and reproduction (sex determination, manipulation, sex change). Roles of sensory, nervous, and endocrine systems in mediating environmental information. Hands-on laboratory. Prerequisite: either BIOL 161 or BIOL 220.

fhllabsFISH 420 Ecology of Marine Fishes

Faculty: T. Essington

Focuses on the unique ecological challenges facing marine fishes, including individual, population, community, and ecosystem-scale processes. Prerequisite: either FISH 311 or FISH 312.

fhllabsFISH 423 Aquatic Invasion Ecology

Faculty: J. Olden, E. Carrington

Explores the patterns, drivers, and consequences of species invasions in freshwater, estuary, and marine ecosystems. Focuses on the science and management needs for preventing, controlling, and eradicating invasive species. Topics illustrated with cases from the Pacific Northwest and the world. Prerequisite: either BIOL 462 or BIOL 180.

fhllabsFISH 424 Biology and Culture of Aquatic Organisms

Faculty: C. Friedman

Explores the concept of sustainability and the interrelationship between environment, aquatic species, and culture of aquatic animal and plant species globally. Current practices, animal biology and health, near-shore ecosystem conservation, water quality, and strategies to improve the sustainability of aquaculture for food production and species conservation. Lecture and lab.

fhllabsFISH 437 Fisheries Oceanography

Faculty: J. Horne

Investigates how the environment influences distributions and abundances of marine vertebrate and invertebrate species. Uses studies to understand fish and zooplankton life histories, predict trends in populations, reduce uncertainty in resource management, and to decouple anthropogenic from natural effects on aquatic populations.

fhllabsFISH 475 Marine Mammalogy

Faculty: Glenn VanBlaricom

Evolution, taxonomy, physiology, life history, and behavior of marine mammals; the techniques of studying and the management and conservation of them. Recommended: 15 credits of biological science, vertebrate anatomy, and physiology, for laboratory sections.

fhllabsFISH 491 Aquatic Ecological Research in Alaska

Faculty: T. Quinn

Intensive, full-time research training experience during summer quarter, where a team of students works on focused research problems guided by a group of faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student mentors. Examines behavioral ecology, limnology, and population dynamics. Students also choose specific research questions for their own exploration. Course location: Alaska.

fhllabsFISH 492 Friday Harbor Labs Apprenticeship

Intensive, full-time research training experience where teams of students work on focused research problems guided by a group of faculty, postdoctoral and graduate student mentors. Research questions vary. Course location: Friday Harbor Laboratories. 



fhllabsBIOL 330 Natural History of Marine Invertebrates

Faculty: Varies

Field and laboratory course emphasizing the habits, habitats, adaptations, and interrelationships of marine animals. Weekend field trips required. 

fhllabsBIOL 430 Marine Zoology

Faculty: E. Carrington, M. Dethier, K. Britton-Simmons

Survey of groups of invertebrate animals represented in the San Juan Archipelago; natural history, functional morphology, ecology, distribution, habitat, adaptation, trophic interrelationships, and evolution. Permission of Director, Friday Harbor Laboratories required for registration. Recommended: 20 credits in biological sciences; corequisite: BIOL 445, Offered: at Friday Harbor Laboratories. 

fhllabsBIOL 432 Marine Invertebrate Zoology

Faculty: M. Wonham, M. Jacobs

Comparative morphology and biology of marine invertebrates with emphasis on field and laboratory studies. Representatives of all major and most minor phyla are collected, observed alive, and studied in detail. Not open for credit to students who have taken 433 or 434. Recommended: 20 credits in biological sciences. Offered: at Friday Harbor Laboratories. 

fhllabsBIOL 433 Marine Ecology

Faculty: J. Ruesink

Study of marine ecological processes such as recruitment, disturbance, competition, and predation, and their effects on the structure and diversity of marine communities. Weekend field trips to local intertidal habitats required. Prerequisite: either BIOL 356, BIOL 472, or a minimum grade of 3.4 in BIOL 180. 

fhllabsBIOL 434 Invertebrate Zoology

Faculty: J. Ruesink

Comparative biology and morphology of invertebrates. Laboratory work emphasizes structures and functions. Emphasizes annelids and related worms, mollusks, and arthropods. Not open to students who have taken 430 or 432. Prerequisite: either BIOL 102, BIOL 202, or BIOL 220.

fhllabsBIOL 445 Marine Botany

Faculty: E. Carrington, M. Dethier, K. Britton-Simmons

Survey of plants represented in marine environments; natural history; ecology, distribution, habitat, adaptation, and trophic interrelationships. Prerequisite: either BIOL 102, BIOL 162, BIOL 203, or BIOL 220; BIOL 430/ZOOL 430, which may be taken concurrently. Offered: at Friday Harbor Laboratories. 

fhllabsBIOL 446 Biology of Algae

Faculty: R. Cattolico, J.R. Waaland

Study of major algal groups emphasizing form, function, reproduction, distribution, biodiversity, and ecological roles in coastal, oceanic, and global ecosystems. Topics include classification, cellular and organisimal features, phylogeny, and evolution of major algal groups. Emphasizes economically useful and ecologically important algae. Prerequisite: either BIOL 102, BIOL 162, BIOL 180, or BIOL 203. 

fhllabsBIOL 448 Marine Algal Ecology

Faculty: J.R. Waaland

Marine environment in relation to requirements for algal life. Intertidal, subtidal, geographical, and seasonal distribution of marine algae. Functional aspects of algal form, structure, productivity, and energy economy of marine algal communities. Algal utilization and aquaculture. 

fhllabsBIOL 451 Invertebrate Paleontology

Faculty: P. Ward

Important larger invertebrate groups; morphology, classification, stratigraphic distribution, evolution, paleoecology. Offered: jointly with ESS 451. 


Integrative Experience

fhllabsFISH/BIOL/OCEAN 477 Seminar in Marine Biology

Faculty: G. Rocap

The marine biology senior seminar is designed to integrate the different courses that are part of the marine biology minor. Students will hear weekly lectures from marine biologists doing cutting edge research, read and critically evaluate primary literature in the field of marine biology, integrate information from a range of methodological approaches to marine biology, present scientific ideas arguing from evidence, and speculate on meanings of scientific data and on possible future directions. Students should have completed all four core marine biology minor courses before taking this seminar (FSH/OCN/BIOL 250, BIOL 180, OCN 210, QSCI 381).

fhllabsFISH/BIOL/OCEAN 479 Research in Marine Biology

Faculty: Varies

Individual research on topics in marine biology. Research projects supervised by an individual faculty member. Projects may include laboratory work, fieldwork, and literature surveys. Prerequisite: BIOL 250/FISH 250/OCEAN 250; Q SCI 381.

FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 479 Marine Biology Research Apprenticeships at Friday Harbor Labs

BIOL 432 Marine Invertebrates at Friday Harbor Labs

FISH 492 Marine Mammals and Seabirds at Friday Harbor Labs

OCEAN 411 Ocean Observatories Initiative Cruise

Faculty: Varies

A major research cruise during summer B-term that explores the Regional Scale Nodes underwater cabled observatory as part of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative. This cruise takes place aboard the 274’ R/V Thomas G. Thompson and will utilize an underwater robotic vehicle for real-time imaging, sampling, and mapping of 1) methane seeps and novel biological communities on the Oregon Margin, and 2) submarine hot springs on Axial Volcano, located more than 200 miles off the Washington coast. On board, students will work alongside scientists, engineers, and the ship’s crew to gain at sea research and sea-going experience using advanced oceanographic research instrumentation. You will also conduct your own research using data collected with some of these tools. Applications are due in April.

OCEAN 496 Exploration Seminar to Micronesia

September UW Exploration Seminar study abroad course. Students will apply basic principles of chemistry, physics, biology and geology to develop an understanding of the chemical and physical properties of the ocean and estuaries surrounding Kosrae, the island's coral reefs and fisheries, its mangrove forests, and the impact of coastal development and global climate change on these systems.


Recommended Courses Outside of Minor Requirements

These courses do not count toward the minor requirements, but may help students fulfill Areas of Knowledge requirements for their degrees.


Photos: From UW Alum Eric Lemar's website: FISH 311, 324, 420, 424, 475 & BIOL 180, 330, 423, 430, 432, 433, 434 and 448, and FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 479

From UW Marine Biology team and related sites: FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 by Kristian Haapa-aho, OCEAN 210 from NOAA Ocean Service Education site; OCEAN 220 from Ocean site; OCEAN 442 from Rick Keil and the course website; OCEAN 430 by Thomas Pool; OCEAN 454 & OCEAN 431 by Deborah Kelley; OCEAN 492 by Ross Whippo; FISH 310 from FHL website by L. Coutts; FISH 423 from WDFW invasive species site; FISH 312 from the course website; FISH 437 from John Horne's lab site; FISH 323 Blondie Permit No. 782-1719, by Sally Mizroch; FISH 330 from NOAA's celebrating 200 years site; FISH 491 by Thomas Quinn; BIOL 445 by Mego Huang, 446 by Alison Rhoades; BIOL 451 by Thaddaeus Buser; FISH 478 by C. Baduini from COASST, FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 479 from FHL marine biology quarter blog