Marine Biology – What is it?

“Marine Biology is a subject mixing functional biology and ecology”

Marine Biology is subject which is very diverse, but it does have two main elements; functional biology and ecology.

Functional Biology the study of how an organism carries out basic functions such as locomotion, reproduction, feeding and the cellular and biochemical processes related to digestion, respiration and other aspects of metabolism.

Ecology on the other hand, is the study of organisms with their physical and biological environments and how these interactions determine the distribution and abundance of these organisms.

An example of a question faced in functional biology will be;

“When a whale dives for food to great depths, how does it conserve oxygen?”

whereas an example in ecology would be more like:

“Are all species important within a community?”

Occasionally it will be difficult to distinguish between functional biology and ecology because almost all functional problems have ecological dimensions and vice versa. It is pointless to study ecology without a sound understanding of an organism’s functional biology.

Marine biology as a field has to cover the basic aspects of marine ecology. Without a general understanding of the ocean it is impossible to understand how or why marine organisms live the way they do.

“Biodiversity is the third main factor in marine biological studies”

Marine environments can be very rich in species but vary tremendously in the number of species or Biodiversity. “Why is there variation in species numbers from habitat to habitat and from time to time?”

Functional biology, ecology and biodiversity are the building blocks of marine biology, without one of them it wouldn’t be possible to build a complete picture of what happens in our oceans, how and why.


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