Spring 2019 - BISC 474 D100

Special Topics in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (3)

Current Issues in Ecotoxicology

Class Number: 8131

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    SECB 1011, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    To be announced.



Selected topics in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation not currently offered in the Department of Biological Science.


Course Outline updated when required

Course description:

Through scientific debates presented in the literature and class lead seminars we will explore recent topics in the field of Ecotoxicology. These include but are not limited to: 

Aquaculture both fin and shell
Carbon and why it needs to stay in the ground (or not)
Macro and microplastics
Ocean acidificationOcean warmingIncreased incidence of HAB
Emerging contaminants of concern

Class format:

-3 preparatory lectures
-scientific debates  (assigned or student choice)
-student lead seminars (assigned or student choice)


Learning outcomes:   
-Assess the scientific defensibility of research through a critical evaluation of the literature.      
-Deliver high quality verbal and written arguments.           
-Demonstrate an ability to learn from other fields.


  • Debates in science 30%
  • Student lead seminars 40%
  • Class participation 30%


Some examples of scientific debates in the literature. 

1. The Paper: Declining wild salmon populations in relation to parasites from farm salmon. Science, 318: 1772–1775 (2007). Krkosek, M.,  et al.
The critique: Brooks, K. M., and S. R. M. Jones. Perspectives on pink salmon and sealice: Scientific evidence fails to support the extinction hypothesis.Rev. Fish. Sci., 16: 403–412 (2008).
The response: Krkošek, M., Ford, J., Morton, A., Lele, S., Lewis, M.  (2008). Sea lice and pink salmon declines: response to Brooks and Jones. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 16(4):413-420. 

2. The paper: Beamish, R.J., Neville, C.M., Sweeting, R.M., and Ambers, N.J.  2005. Sea lice on adult Pacific salmon in the coastal waters of Central British Columbia, Canada.  Fisheries Research 76:  198-208. sea lice pacific salmon 2005.pdf
The critique: Frazer, L.N. (2007) Comment on ”Sea lice on adult Pacific salmon in the coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada” by R.J. Beamish et al., Fisheries Research, 85, 328–331.doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2006.10.010
The response: Beamish, R.J., Neville, C.M., and Sweeting, R.M. 2007.  Response to Dr. Neil Frazer’s comment on “Sea lice on adult Pacific salmon in the coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada” R.J. Beamish et al. (2005).  Letter to the Editor, Fisheries Research 85: 332-333.FISH2305_letter to editor.pdf  

3. The paper: Svenning J-C, et al. (2015) Science for a wilder Anthropocene: Synthesis and future directions for trophic rewilding research. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 10.1073/pnas.1502556112.
The critique: From Pleistocene to trophic rewilding: A wolf in sheep’s clothing Dustin R. Rubenstein, and Daniel I. Rubenstein PNAS | January 5, 2016 | vol. 113 | no. 1 | E1
The response: Time to move on from ideological debates on rewilding Jens-Christian Svenning et al. E2–E3 | PNAS | January 5, 2016 | vol. 113 | no. 1  

4. The paper
: Gobler CJ, et al. (2017) Ocean warming since 1982 has expanded the niche of toxic algal blooms in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 114:4975–4980.
The critique: Dees P, et al. (2017) Harmful algal blooms in the Eastern North Atlantic Ocean. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 114:E9763–E9764.
The response:Reply to Dees et al.: Ocean warming promotes species-specific increases in the cellular growth rates of harmful algal blooms PNAS 2017 114 (46) E9765-E9766; published ahead of print October 30, 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1715749114  

5. The paper: Price, M.H.H., Morton, A., and Reynolds, J.D. 2010. Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 67(12): 1925–1932. doi:10.1139/F10-105.
The critique: Comment on “Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada.Jones, S. R. M and R. J.  Beamish  Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 69: 201–203 (2012)
The response: Salmon farms as a source of sea lice on juvenile wild salmon; reply to the comment by Jones and Beamish  Price, M. H. H. and J. D. Reynolds.  Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 69: 204–207 (2012)



No Textbook

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html