Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology Major (B.S.)

This is an archived copy of the 2017-2018 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

The Major in Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology is intended to give students interested in the fields of marine and freshwater biology the background to pursue careers, including potential advanced study, in this area of biology.  The major builds on a broad set of basic scientific courses represented by a core curriculum in math, chemistry, physics and biology.  The background in basic science is combined with a series of required and elective courses in the aquatic sciences from watershed to ocean.  The goal is to provide a solid foundation of knowledge in freshwater, estuarine and marine biology while having the flexibility to focus on particular areas of scientific interest from molecular biology to ecosystem studies. Students will have the opportunity to specialize in areas of their own interest, such as aquaculture and fisheries or animal behavior.

The University's location and facilities provide unique opportunities for the study of aquatic organism and systems due to its access to the seacoast and the lakes region of New Hampshire, the White Mountains National Forest, and the presence of two coastal marine laboratories, as well as estuarine and freshwater facilities. There is a strong teaching and research emphasis on ecological and physiological processes in aquatic plants, animals and ecosystems. A major strength of the program is the hands-on approach to teaching combined with an emphasis on involving undergraduate students in research.

Biological Sciences Core
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
BIOL 541General Ecology4
BMS 503
BMS 504
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
GEN 604Principles of Genetics4
CHEM 403General Chemistry I4
CHEM 404General Chemistry II4
CHEM 545
CHEM 546
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
BMCB 658
BMCB 659
General Biochemistry
and General Biochemistry Lab
MATH 424BCalculus for Life Sciences4
BIOL 528Applied Biostatistics I4
or BIOL 555 Experimental Design and Analysis Laboratory (EDAL)
PHYS 401Introduction to Physics I4
PHYS 402Introduction to Physics II4
MEFB Required Courses
MEFB 401Marine Estuarine and Freshwater Biology: Freshmen Seminar1
MEFB 503Introduction to Marine Biology4
MEFB 525Introduction to Aquatic Botany4
MEFB 527Aquatic Animal Diversity4
Choose one Freshwater course:4
Lake Ecology
Field Studies in Lake Ecology
Choose one Physiology/Function course:4-5
Principles of Animal Physiology
and Animal Physiology Laboratory
Physiology of Fish
Choose one Marine or Estuarine course:4
Marine Ecology
Biological Oceanography
MEFB Electives: Choose 3
Evolution, Systematics and Biodiversity
BIOL 566Systematic Botany4
GEN 713Microbial Ecology and Evolution4
MEFB 625Introduction to Marine Botany4
MEFB 722Marine Phycology4
ZOOL 518Vertebrate Morphology5
ZOOL 542Ornithology4
ZOOL 628Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology5
ZOOL 690Evolution4
ZOOL 710Ichthyology4
MEFB 510Field Ornithology (SML)4
MEFB #609Biology of the Lobster (SML)3
MEFB 630Biodiversity and Biology of Marine Invertebrates (SML)4
MEFB #734Diversity of Fishes (SML)3
MEFB 754Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates (SML)4
Fisheries and Aquaculture
ZOOL 610Principles of Aquaculture4
ZOOL 710Ichthyology4
ZOOL 750Biological Oceanography 14
ZOOL 772Fisheries Biology3
ZOOL 773Physiology of Fish 14
MEFB #609Biology of the Lobster (SML)3
MEFB 702Sustainable Marine Fisheries (SML)4
MEFB #734Diversity of Fishes (SML)3
Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Ecology
NR 744Biogeochemistry4
ESCI 501Introduction to Oceanography4
GEN 713Microbial Ecology and Evolution4
NR 504Freshwater Resources4
NR 703Watershed Water Quality Management4
NR 711Wetland Ecology and Management4
MEFB 625Introduction to Marine Botany4
MEFB 717Lake Ecology 14
MEFB 719Field Studies in Lake Ecology (C) 14
MEFB 725Marine Ecology (C) 14
MEFB 732Lake Management (C)4
MEFB 747Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management4
ZOOL 628Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology5
ZOOL 721Aquatic Invasive Species (C)4
ZOOL 733Behavioral Ecology (C)4
ZOOL 750Biological Oceanography 14
MEFB 515Marine Environmental Science and Conservation (SML)4
MEFB #615Field and Experiment Oceanography (SML)3
MEFB 674Ecology and Marine Environment (SML)4
MEFB 714Field Animal Behavior (SML)4
MEFB 751Research in Marine Biology (SML, C)4
Physiology, Behavior and Cell Biology
ANSC 701Physiology of Reproduction4
BIOL 701Plant Physiology5
BMCB 605Eukaryotic Cell and Developmental Biology4
BMS 716Public Health: Food- and Water-borne Diseases4
MEFB 714Field Animal Behavior (SML)4
MEFB 727Algal Physiology3
ZOOL 625
ZOOL 626
Principles of Animal Physiology
and Animal Physiology Laboratory 1
ZOOL 733Behavioral Ecology4
ZOOL 773Physiology of Fish 14
ZOOL 777Neurobiology and Behavior4
Research and Special Projects 2
BIOL 600Field Experience (C)1-4
BIOL 795Independent Investigations (C)1-4
BMS 795Investigations in Biomedical Science (C)1-8
MEFB 732Lake Management (C)4
MEFB 730Underwater Research (SML, C)4
MEFB 751Research in Marine Biology (SML, C)4
TECH 797Undergraduate Ocean Research Project (C)2
ZOOL 795Special Investigations (C)1-4

 Courses used to satisfy MEFB major requirements may not also be used to satisfy the 3 required electives.


 Primary focus of the project must be Marine, Estuarine and/or Freshwater.

Courses marked with (SML) are courses taught in the summer at the Shoals Marine Laboratory.

Courses marked with (C) can be used to fulfill the Capstone requirement.

Courses listed in more than one category will satisfy requirements in only one category.

One 600 or 795 experience totaling three or more credits or any two 795 experiences of two credits each can fulfill one course requirement in any category with adviser approval. A Petition for Academic Variance approved by the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences is required to count 795 experiences for more than one major required course.

The capstone explores areas of interest based on the integration of prior learning. The capstone requirement may be satisfied through a course, created work or product, or some form of experiential learning (e.g., honors thesis, mentored research project, and other special student activity). Departments are responsible for certifying that graduating seniors have met the capstone requirement for their majors.

A minimum grade of C- is required in all biological science courses that are counted toward the requirements for a degree in MEFB. Students who expect to compete successfully for post-baccalaureate programs should attain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of the sophomore year and maintain it at that level.

Note: It is strongly recommended that students participate in an exchange semester at another university or in a field-oriented program or internship. There are many exchange opportunities available in which a full semester of credits toward the major may be earned. In addition, students should explore the courses at the Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML), which provides an excellent setting for several "field-oriented" courses during the summer. Often there is financial support available for the SML programs (see the SML website for details or the Cornell web site at It is further recommended that students explore possibilities of one or more semesters of independent investigation (research projects). For details, students should contact their adviser. Financial support is available for most of these programs.

Pre-health Professional Program

MEFB majors who wish to pursue postgraduate degrees in the health care professions should visit The following elective courses will be helpful in preparing for admission to post-baccalaureate programs in the health professions and for their required aptitude examinations: BMS 702, ZOOL 518, ZOOL 625 and ZOOL 626, BMCB 605, BMCB 751 and BMCB 752, ANSC 511 and ANSC 512.