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Research opportunities

Dalhousie's Marine Biology faculty are internationally recognized as outstanding scholars and researchers whose contributions to the disciplines in marine science have global impact.

Our professors are also passionate teachers who love what they do. With backgrounds in biology, oceanography, marine biology, and marine ecology, professors teaching Marine Biology courses share their varied expertise with students, bringing their research to life in the classroom and out in the field, and ensuring you're exposed to the latest theories and findings.

Here are just a couple examples of marine-related research our professors are doing:

Dr. Jeff Hutchings’ research focuses on questions in the fields of evolutionary ecology, conservation biology, and population biology. One of his central concerns is to understand the tremendous variability that exists in reproductive strategies within and among natural populations of fishes. He attempts to answer such questions as: Why do some individuals reproduce early in life, while others do so relatively late in life? Why do some individuals produce many, small offspring, while other produce few, large offspring? Why do some individuals reproduce several times throughout their life, while others die after reproducing just once?

Dr. Tamara Romanuk’s research investigates biodiversity loss, species invasions, food web structure and dynamics, and ecosystem functioning. She focuses on the consequences of changing biodiversity in aquatic food webs—in particular, species extinction and its repercussions on the remaining species. She has explored the answers to a number of complex questions, including: What are the consequences of declining biodiversity on the functioning of ecosystems? Can we use characteristics of invasive species or communities to predict how invasive a species will be or how resistant a community is to invasion?

Student research activities

In your upper-level Marine Biology courses, you could have the opportunity to participate in one of a variety of research projects. If you opt to do the honours degree, you’ll conduct your own research as part of your fourth-year honours project. Here are some of the research activities other students have worked on:

  • Analyze the temporal and spatial patterns in American lobster abundance along the North American East Coast.
  • Manipulate the genetic diversity of seagrass to quantify the effects on its productivity and resistance to environmental change.
  • Find out if feeding phytoplankton to scleractinian corals (Acropora and Pocillopora spp.) increases their growth.
  • Study the behaviour of settling larvae and early juveniles of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis.
  • Investigate the biological and physical processes that affect population dynamics of invasive species on the ecosystem structure off the southern shore of Nova Scotia.
  • Study the larval supply and settlement of marine benthic invertebrates in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia.
  • Find out how population density and low-scale turbulence affect the vertical migration and swimming patterns of echinoderm larvae.
  • Determine how the development of invasive species, such as the European Green Crab, is affected by salinity levels.