Field practices, sampling design and census of marine communities

Cohort: 2017, 2018

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4



Marine Conservation
Polytechnic university of Marche


This course aims at providing the students with the expertise for field work at sea, enabling the students to acquire the skills needed for the research activities. The field course deals with practical issues on biological sampling through direct techniques.
It will offer the opportunity to experience the design of a sampling strategy using the main techniques and protocols that marine biologists apply in the field. The course will include the base course for scientific diving, collecting benthic samples and recording photos and/or videos in situ. If students lack of diving certification, this can be acquired during dedicated pre-courses. The students that lack or do not want to get the licence can be involved in alternative activities (e.g., snorkel and/or activities from the beach). The course includes lectures (2 ECTS, 16 hours) and practical training in the field and in the lab (4 ECTS, 32 hours).


Description of the main sampling and census techniques. Direct sampling by SCUBA diving with both destructive and non-destructive methods. Practical experiences for the samples' treatment, preservation, preparation and sorting of samples benthos, intertidal and coastal organisms. Use of multiparametric probe, and sampling nets for zooplankton and microplastics, sediment corer, caging experiments and transplanted organisms. Description of the main habitats and species included in international conservation strategies, highlighting the motivation of these measures. Course on the identification of the most common local species of conservation interest and the main techniques for their study. Biological sampling and data directly collected in the field will provide the material that will be analysed in the lab both for identification and for habitat assessment.


Graduate level in sciences.
No specific pre-requisites are requested, although basic knowledge in marine biology and ecology and a diving certification are recommended (not obligatory).


The scope of the course is to offer students the theoretical and practical knowledge on more common sampling methodologies for the marine environment. They learn, touching by hands, the requirements needed to become a marine biologist both in the field, acquiring good competences in biological sampling, and in the lab for sample sorting and processing. All the activities are focussed on the 11 descriptors required the European Marine Strategy Directive to define the Good Environmental Status.


At the end of the course, the students know the main techniques and methodologies for specific case studies, in either research activities or conservation issues.

Key skills acquired

The students will acquire practical skills for different typologies of sampling strategies. The peculiarity of the practical activities will require developing skills of interaction and coordination within a workgroup.
If requested and deemed appropriate by the teacher, the activities will be certified as scientific diving, thus contributing to the achievement of the European scientific diver certification, and facilitating international mobility of the students within this field.


Notes taken during the lecturers and presentations given by the lecturers. State of the art articles, reports, books.


Short presentation supported by visual material describing the sampling strategy, the sample or data collection, the lab analysis performed during the course. The students must demonstrate that they have acquired the basic knowledge presented during the course; with regard to the practical part, the student will be asked to conceptually apply the methods learned in the field to specific case studies. The final grade is mainly allocated according to the ability to set the answer complete and schematic, to the level of knowledge and the exposition of the proper terminology.

Involved teachers

Carlo Cerrano Barbara Calcinai Daniela Pica Cristina Gioia Di Camillo Fabio Rindi

Contact hours