Kirstin Swinstrom



This class is an introduction to the biology, natural history, evolution, behavior, anatomy, physiology and population ecology of marine mammals, including whales, dolphins, pinnipeds, sea otters, manatees and dugongs.  This class is both UC and CSU transferable.


Students will be able to:

  1. Describe the features of the class mammalia and compare and contrast the characteristics of the orders and families of marine mammals.
  2. Summarize key physical features of the marine environment including light, temperature, pressure, and nutrient distribution.
  3. Compare and contrast primary and secondary production levels in major areas of the ocean and explain how these impact the distribution, population size, and migration patterns of marine mammals.
  4. Explain systematics and cladistics, and apply these concepts to marine mammals.
  5. Synthesize the concepts of evolutionary mechanisms, adaptation, and speciation, and apply these concepts to marine mammal evolution.
  6. Explain mammalian homeostasis and energetics and the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations made by marine mammals for life in the sea.
  7. Compare and contrast capabilities and uses of the sensory systems of different marine mammal groups.
  8. Compare and contrast the various feeding mechanisms of marine mammals as they relate to social structure, physiology and morphology.
  9. Compare and contrast the mating and social systems of marine mammals and analyze the role of habitat and evolution in shaping these systems.
  10. Summarize past and present threats and analyze the effectiveness of current laws regulating marine mammal populations.
  11. Recognize and describe the marine mammal species found along the California coast and describe their ecology, natural history, and world population status.

For more information


See BIO 27 in the Schedule of Classes

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