Tentative Syllabus


 BIOE 127/127L, Ichthyology Winter 2018

Lecture: Mon/Weds. 1:25 – 3:00pm, CBB  (Long Marine Lab)

Labs: Mon/Tue/Wed/Th.   CBB (Marine Lab)

Instructor: Giacomo Bernardi (bernardi at ucsc.edu) 

  • office hours: by appointment

TAs: Eric Garcia (egarci36 at ucsc.edu)-Monday, May Roberts (mabrober at ucsc.edu)-Tuesday, Ben Waserman (bawasser at ucsc.edu)-Wednesday, Jason Toy (jatoy at ucsc.edu)-Thursday


Office hours: TBD


Course Description: An introduction to the biology of jawless, cartilaginous, and bony fishes—their classification, evolution, form, physiology, and ecology.


Text (optional): The Diversity of Fishes: Biology, Evolution, and Ecology (Helfman et al. 2nd edition: ISBN-10: 1405124946) & Guide to the Coastal Marine Fishes of California (Miller and Lea). There is one copy of The Diversity of Fishes at the Science and Engineering library.

I do not require a textbook, because it is expensive and not all students like to study in books.  If you do, this is one of the best textbooks around and I will loosely follow it.

Course Information:


Lectures: Please feel free to bring low noise snacks (i.e., no Pop Rocks covered carrots) and whatever caffeinated beverage you need to stay awake. You are welcome to bring and use your phones to check facts and other useful things.  Emphasis on useful! Attending class is not mandatory, remember that.


Exams: There will be 2 exams (1 midterm and 1 final), which will consist of a combination of multiple choice, and fill in the blank. Midterm exam will account for 40%, Final will account for 40%, and Paper will account for 20%  of your overall course grade. If it was not discussed in class then it will not be on an exam BUT there will likely be critical thinking questions.


Paper: You will need to summarize a scientific paper based on fis,h and review two of your classmates’ summaries. First, find a primary research paper on fish from a peer-reviewed journal. Write a summary of the paper, explain why the work was done, what the main research questions are and what your comments are on the paper. Did you like the paper? Why, why not? This should be no more than two pages, double-spaced. Print two copies of your paper (double spaced) and swap with two classmates on Monday February 12th. You should have two people reviewing your paper and you should review two students’ papers. Return your reviews to one another no later than Wednesday February 21st so that you will be able to make edits to your work before the final deadline on Wednesday February 28th. Please let me know if you do not receive reviews back on time. Incorporate the reviewers’ comments into your work and print this final draft. Your grade for this assignment will include the quality and thoroughness of your peer reviews. The paper will account for 20% of your course grade.

For more details about this assignment check the assignment link on the class webpage.

Lab Information:

Grades for labs break down as follows:

Lab notebook: 50% , Fish Skull: 25%, Lab Practical: 25%

Labs: Labs will take place at CBB, across from the lecture room.  The sharks we dissect are preserved in formalin so we will dissect them underneath fume hoods. We will also dissect bony fishes, those are fresh fish, so no need for specific precaution.  If you are not very much into the dissection things, just let me know before hand and we will find a replacement exercise.

All labs and subsequent write-ups should be submitted in a bound lab notebook. The notebook will constitute 50% of your lab grade.


Skulls: In order to better appreciate the complex mechanics of bony fishes’ skulls, you are required to disarticulate and recompose a fish skull. It is recommended that students work on this project in groups of two or three (no more). You will then need to draw the skull.  Then you will label each bone ON YOUR DRAWING, no need to label the skull. The skull will get a single grade (everybody gets the same grade for the skull of their own group) but each drawing gets its own grade, so people in the same group may get a different overall grade. The skull will make up 15% of your lab grade and the skull drawing is worth 10%. (skulls need to be brought to the lab on the week of Monday, Feb 26th)

Lab Practical: There will be as many stations in the lab as there are students.  Students will stay at one station and answer questions there on the fish or material that is present at that station, then students will rotate and move to the next station.



Make-up policy:  Make-up exams will only be allowed for students who have a substantiated excuse approved by the instructor. Leaving a phone message or sending an e-mail without confirmation is not acceptable. Labs are mandatory. Make-ups for missing a lab consists of a 1 paragraph summary of a recent biology journal article highlighted in the news AND a 4 minute power point presentation on the article to the class. Any additional missed labs will result in zero credit for that lab.

DRC students: If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please submit your Accommodation Authorization Letter from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to me as soon as possible, preferably within the first week of the Summer Session. Contact DRC by phone at 831-459-2089 or by email at drc@ucsc.edu for more information.


Field Trips: We will try to visit both the Steinhart Aquarium and fish collections housed at the California Academy of Sciences and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These trips are optional, as they will likely occur on week ends.


E-mail Etiquette: TAs and I are happy to answer emails/questions about course material, general fish related queries, or discuss the meaning of life, however we are not happy to provide information that is easily obtained on the website or on this syllabus.  So before you ask us a question about what the paper is all about or what percentage of your grade is the final worth, check the website and/or ask a friend. Please don’t load our inboxes with laziness. We reserve the right to ignore such emails.

Plagiarism and Cheating: Don’t do it. If you are caught cheating or plagiarizing, you will receive a zero for that exam or assignment and I will file a report with the university.