The Diversity of Fish

Course Aim

Students successfully completing this course will be able to:
- Describe the incredible diversity of fish and their fascinating abilities.
- Combine several scientific disciplines together to solve a biological question
- Analyze the values and limits of biological models
- Explain why protecting fish is vital

Course Description

Learn about the rich diversity of fish and the incredible array of traits, behaviors, and survival mechanisms they display. Through lectures, projects, and discussions, use the diversity of fish to examine how they interact with, and are shaped by, their diverse environments. Integrate results from the scientific disciplines of ecology, physiology, and biophysics and explore the value and limits of biological models. Conduct a bibliographical research project that uses viewpoints from several scientific disciplines to solve a biological question about a species of fish, and present your findings.

Course Contents

Introduction: What is a fish?
PART 1: The origin and evolution of fish
PART 2: How fish works: from locomotion to feeding
PART 3: Sexy Fish: Sex determination, reproduction, parental care…
PART 4: Extreme fish: Life in the cold, heat, depth or air
PART 5: The future of fish: Fisheries, aquaculture, pollution…


Bibliographical project on a scientific problem related to fish. The student will have to write a 3-4 pages report and give a 10 min presentation in front of the class and PhD students/post-docs working on fish.

At the beginning of the term each student will choose one species of fish and at the end will use this species to discuss in front of the class how interdisciplinary research can help better understanding this species. The advantage and difficulties in this peculiar species should be emphasized.

Prerequisites or Prior Knowledge

Curiosity and sense of wonder


The Diversity of Fishes: Biology, Evolution, and Ecology by Gene Helfman Bruce B. Collette Douglas E. Facey, Brian W. Bowen. Wiley-Blackwell.