AB-820 Arctic Marine Zooplankton (10 ECTS)






Autumn semester (August - September). Next course in 2024.

Hauling of zooplankton net on the AB-320 course cruise. Photo: Malin Daase.

Grade:Letter grade (A through F)
Course Cost:Scientific cruise: NOK 2000-2400,- (10-12 days x NOK 200 per day)
Course Capacity Min/Max:9/18 students (AB-320/820 in total)
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

UNIS contact person: Janne Søreide

Course requirements

Enrolment in a PhD programme in biology and knowledge similar to AB-202 Marine Arctic Biology.

Academic content

The students will gain insight into the taxonomy, biogeography, and ecology of the main zooplankton species in Svalbard waters and the polar basin North of Svalbard. The course has a special emphasis on hands-on identification of zooplankton as well as processes important for understanding the Arctic ecosystem.

Lectures deal with identification of zooplankton species, life history traits of Arctic zooplankton, trophic interactions and vertical migration (both seasonal and diel). The practical fieldwork will be designed by the teachers and implemented into the course. It will vary from year-to-year depending on selection of research projects by the lecturers.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, the students will:


  • have thorough knowledge of common Arctic marine zooplankton species found in Svalbard waters, and the oceanographic and ecological interactions that determine their spatial and temporal abundance patterns
  • understand food-web interactions in the pelagic zone, how zooplankton communities impact ecosystem function, and the impacts of climatic change and human activities on zooplankton community patterns.


  • be capable of operating common sampling gears for zooplankton, and treating/processing zooplankton samples
  • hold skills gained by practical experience in the use of acoustics for detecting and analyzing biomass and movements of biomass
  • be able to conduct univariate and multivariate statistical analysis of plankton data
  • have acquired experience from writing a scientific report.

General competences

  • have the ability to use scientific literature and to discuss scientific questions
  • have the ability to search for, critically read and extract relevant information from scientific literature
  • use information from literature, lecture material, and shipboard experience to evaluate hypotheses about Arctic marine zooplankton
  • have developed skills related to teamwork (practical in the field, in the lab and from writing the science report).

Learning activities

The course extends over 6 weeks including compulsory safety training and is run in combination with AB-320.

One-week theoretical introduction and preparation of field activities will be followed by a two-week research cruise. During this cruise, sampling will be conducted in different localities around Svalbard (fjord and off-shelf). Week 4 will focus on lab exercises focused on species identification and other relevant analysis of the collected material, and week 5 on writing the report and preparing for the exam.

The PhD students will by the end of the course deliver a report (written as a scientific paper). The deadline for this report is one week after the exam (home work), but it is compulsory to deliver a full draft of the report before the exam.


  • Total lecture hours: 40 hours.
  • Laboratory work / exercises / seminars: 60 hours.
  • Scientific cruise: Ca. 2 weeks.

Compulsory learning activities

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

  • Field excursions
  • Technical report


  • All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
  • Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available. 
Percentage of final grade
Practical exam 20%
Written report (scientific article) 30%
Written exam5 hours50%

Student life

Gutting fish aboard ship
AB-320 students cut fish caught on the course cruise. Photo: Malin Daase.
Hauling of zooplankton net in front of glacier
Hauling of zooplankton net on the AB-320 course cruise. Photo: Malin Daase.