Aquatic Biology

MusselA fascinating variety of living creatures live in aquatic environments. Many of us have watched TV programs about the wonders of the ocean, showing the tremendous range in habitats-- from coral reefs to deep basins, and from tropics to the polar regions--as well as the countless species living there. Equally interesting habitats and organisms occur in freshwater--ponds, lakes, wetlands, springs, creeks, and rivers. Aquatic biologists study these freshwater and marine environments and the plants, animals, and microbes adapted to living there. Students and faculty with the MSU Biology Department have worked in all these systems.

Study of aquatic biology and the associated sciences provides the knowledge and experience necessary to enter a wide variety of careers. Many MSU-Biology graduates work in government agencies, such as the Missouri Department of Conservation and US Fish and Wildlife Service, while others are employed by private corporations, including environmental consulting firms, zoological parks and aquariums, and not-for-profit conservation organizations. Their roles are diverse, and include park naturalists, fisheries managers, developing exhibits for aquaria and museums, as well as teaching in public schools and colleges. Other graduates work in the area of water quality for municipalities and environmental consulting firms, helping to monitor the causes and consequences of pollution.

The MSU Biology Department offers a wide array of courses in aquatic biology. These courses focus on habitats (lakes, wetlands, or streams), applied issues (water resources, fisheries management), or on specific groups of organisms (fishes, aquatic insects, invertebrates, aquatic plants). Most of these courses offer field trips to scenic Ozarks habitats. The Biology Department also offers summer courses in marine biology through the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The MSU Biology Department offers numerous opportunities for outside-of-the classroom experiences, such as undergraduate research and cooperative education. The faculty maintain active research programs in aquatic biology, which enable undergraduates to gain experience through independent study and participation in grant funded projects. Aquatic-oriented research in the department includes studies of behavior, conservation, dispersal, life history, and physiology of a wide variety of animals, including fish, mollusks, insects, and plankton. Cooperative education projects are arranged between MSU students and local businesses and government agencies, and a number of these projects have developed into full-time employment.

The Biology Department operates the Bull Shoals Field Station adjacent, which promotes environmental research and education. Our location in the Ozarks provides excellent opportunities to explore nature in an outdoor setting.

John E. Havel, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology