Ecology of Top Predators in Marine Systems

Cohort: 2017, 2018

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4



Ecosystem based fisheries management
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology


This module will provide learners with detailed knowledge of the ecology of top predators in marine systems, in particular seabirds and marine mammals. The module uses a case study approach to examine each component of the syllabus and where possible practical examples from ongoing research within GMIT are used.


Factors affecting top predator abundance and distribution
Role of top predators in marine ecosystems
Ecological consequences of top predator declines
Interactions between marine megafauna and fisheries
Top predators as marine sentinels


This module uses lectures and field work to explore factors affecting the abundance and distribution and role of top predators in marine ecosystems. In addition, the wider ecological consequences of top predator declines, role of top predators in monitoring and management of marine ecosystems and interaction between marine megafauna and fisheries will be explored.


Integrate knowledge of the physical, chemical and biological factors that influence the spatial and temporal distribution of marine top predators.
Describe the role of top predators in marine systems and the consequences of their removal.
Discuss interactions between seabirds/cetaceans and fisheries.
Critically evaluate the potential for top predators in monitoring and managing the marine environment.


CJ Camphuysen (2006) Top predators in marine ecosystems: their role in monitoring and management . Cambridge University Press

JP Croxall (2009) Seabirds: Feeding Ecology and Role in Marine Ecosystems. Cambridge University Press

Module resources placed on moodle including:
Lecture notes


All assessments are both formative and summative, they contribute to the module grade. Assessments used field reports, oral presentations and monitoring plans. The module is 100% continuous assessment with no terminal examination.

Involved teachers

Dr Ian O'Connor, Dr Simon Berrow, Dr Sinead Murphy

Contact hours

An average of three hours per week to a total of 31 hours




8 hours - Boat based fieldtrip to sites with cetaceans, seabirds, phocids and their prey.