Graduate-Level Courses Offered by Dr. Houde

MEES 698:  Early Life History of Marine Fishes

Instructors:  E. D. Houde (UMCES) and Dr. Nalani Schnell (Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences)

A lecture and laboratory course offering a comprehensive view of the biology and taxonomy of early life stages of fishes. These stages, including pelagic eggs, larvae and newly-transformed juveniles, are abundant and diverse components of aquatic ecosystems. Their small size, dynamic growth and mortality rates, and dependence on ambient environmental factors, including ocean physics, make these stages vulnerable to variability in climate and to stresses of anthropogenic origin. Level of reproductive success in teleosts, termed recruitment, is highly variable and largely dependent on variability in survival of these early life stages. Knowledge of their morphological development contributes to studies of phylogenetic relationships. Ontogenetic data serve to clarify the complex systematics of teleost fishes, the most diverse and largest class of vertebrates. Early life stages often have specialized adaptations to insure survival in stressful habitats. In the laboratory, larvae of 190 families of teleostean fishes are examined and characters useful in identification are presented. Laboratory exercises on otolith preparation, otolith-aging, and on feeding by fish larvae are included.

This is a graduate-level course for students with an interest in fish ecology, fisheries science, ichthyology, and biological oceanography.