Marine Neurobiology Course
Heron Island Research Station, 2 July - 14 July, 2007
The University of Queensland boasts the largest collection of marine neurobiologists in Australia, with most focusing on animals endemic to the Great Barrier Reef.
This course will explore both the central and peripheral nervous systems of a range of aquatic animals (invertebrates, cartilaginous fishes, bony fishes and marine mammals) in the context of the neural bases of behaviour.
Sensory, motor and integrative parts of the central nervous system will be examined to challenge students about how animals communicate, navigate, orient themselves in the water column and how they find food and avoid predation. The physical characteristics of the environment and the neurobiological constraints placed on behaviour will also be investigated, drawing upon examples from both shallow water and the deep-sea.
Emphasis will be placed on sensory ecology or the way in which animals see, smell, feel, hear, taste and electrically and magnetically sense their aquatic environment. Sensory systems of specific models will be explored as an integrated whole and examined using the latest morphological, physiological and molecular techniques.
The goals of the course include an introduction to:
- The physical environment in which marine animals live
- The central and peripheral nervous systems of a range of marine vertebrates and invertebrates
- The currently-known senses (vision, audition, chemoreception, electroreception, magnetoreception and mechanoreception)
- The neural basis of behaviour, adaptation and plasticity
- Complex behaviours
- Morphological, physiological and molecular techniques currently used to explore neural processing
- Hypothesis-driven research (as individuals and in groups)
- Scientific communication.
A combination of lectures, tutorials, field and laboratory-based projects will provide a cohesive introduction to marine neurobiology and behaviour with emphasis on addressing problem-based tasks in the context of the physical environment in which marine animals live.
Students will receive an introduction to the nervous systems of marine animals with emphasis on sensory ecology and behaviour. Sensory processing, adaptation and plasticity will also be explored in the context of evolution and development.
Group projects will focus on research and discovery, designed to test hypotheses developed during lectures. Students will gain valuable experience in a range of ?state-of-the-art' techniques in neurobiology and be able to apply these to marine models.
The Course is taught by internationally recognised experts in neurobiology, sensory ecology and behaviour. A unique collaboration between the Centre for Marine Studies, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the Queensland Brain Institute enables students to tap into an international panel of research scientists in an unmatched marine environment.
Completion of a course in marine biology/zoology is required, but the course assumes no background in neurobiology.
For more information about the Great Barrier Reef Study Program, please contact:
Centre for Marine Studies
Level 7, Gehrmann Building
The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland, 4072
Phone: +61 7 3365 4333
Fax: +61 7 3365 4755