Master in Marine Ecology: understand to protect

The postgraduate program in Marine Ecology is aimed at professionals in the areas of biological, maritime or environmental sciences with an interest in research and ecosystem interactions.

Jean Pierre Molina Medina/ Journalist Faculty of Sciences Ucsc.- The Master in Marine Ecology is a postgraduate program focused on the development of study skills to understand the interactions that exist between the species that make up marine ecosystems. The application process for admission 2023 began on August 4 and runs until December 8 (applications through the website

The program has two lines of research so that the student can channel their work. The first of these lines is called Ecology of Organisms, Populations and Marine Communities; with a focus on the interaction between natural and anthropogenic factors in marine ecosystems in order to fully understand these processes and -eventually- establish management plans for their conservation.

On the other hand, there is the line of research Evolution and Molecular Ecology of Marine Organisms; focused on the study of the natural history of aquatic species to understand the ecosystems they inhabit and the interactions that govern them.

To optimize study and learning modalities, the university has the Abate Juan Ignacio Molina Marine Biology Station, dedicated exclusively to coastal research. The facility has boats, laboratories, diving equipment, among other elements that allow researchers to extract samples for later analysis. This center is located in Lenga, within the Hualpén Peninsula.

In this way, the areas of study addressed by the postgraduate course give the student a broad perspective of marine ecology and how different human activities could affect its natural order. The development of these skills can be essential to work on the solution of environmental problems.


Javier Vera, marine biologist and student of the Master in Marine Ecology, is working on the study of one of the most important species both for the productive sector and for marine ecosystems: the mussel (Mytilus chilensis). “From our point of view, that we are beings that produce pollution and adulterate ecosystems, since all the organic waste lies on the coasts, the mussel helps us because it is capable of cleaning the water column,” said the student.

“The objective of my project is to evaluate the impact of white LED lights on mussel behavior. These lights have a blue wavelength peak that produces innate biological responses at the cellular level and beyond”, commented Javier Vera. The stimulus of the blue wave keeps our brain alert, producing lack of sleep in the face of very prolonged exposure. The effects of this phenomenon on the mussel, which is a species that filters water to obtain nutrients, could cause serious problems in ecosystems.

The skills developed in the postgraduate course allow the student to quantify the damage caused by common behaviors whose consequences have been little studied. In this way, it is possible to work on strategies to mitigate these unwanted effects on ecosystems and their inhabitants.

Under the same concept is included the research work of Elba Avilés, marine biologist and Master’s student. Elba, she is studying the impact that the daily operation of the salmon industry has on ecosystems from a sound perspective. “As there are no previous studies in Chile that provide this information, we take the initial step to begin to understand how salmon farms are interfering in the marine ecosystem, a place where many species depend on sound for their correct development,” said the titled of Marine Biology UCSC

Like Javier, Elba seeks to quantify the impact of a human activity that is highly established in a space such as the salmon industry in the Patagonian fjords. In addition, to assess the impact of this phenomenon on marine species, the student is investigating the metabolic rate of the hermit crab (Pagurus edwarsi), which has been noticeably affected by these high-intensity noises. The importance of these studies lies in the possibility of making a change in behaviors that are highly harmful to multiple marine species, but whose impact had not been deeply studied before.

In this way, the research developed within the framework of the Master in Marine Ecology UCSC contributes to the knowledge for the conservation of these marine ecosystems and their inhabitants.

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