General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Life At The Limits: Geo-Ecology Of Extreme Environments
Language English
Module lecturer Michał Jakubowicz, PhD
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Assistant Professor
Faculty Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences
Semester 2024/2025 (winter)
Duration 30


Module aim (aims)

- acquiring the basin knowledge of ecology of extremophile organisms and communities, with special emphasis on the ecosystems based on chemosynthesis: hydrothermal vents, methane (cold) seeps and other reducing habitats, 'deep hot biosphere'

- understanding the controls on the development of 'life oases' based on chemical energy sources

- understanding the relationships between the organic and inorganic components of extreme environments

- ability to recognize ancient chemosynthesis-based ecosystems in the fossil record

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

Basic knowledge in the field of geosciences


Week 1: Principal types and elements of extremophile ecosystems, with special emphasis on chemosynthesis-based communities

Week 2: Processes behind the chemosynthetic 'life oases': microbial oxidation of methane, sulphide, sulphate, iron and manganese

Week 3: Trophic structure of extremophile ecosystems; interactions between the metazoans and chemosynthetic microbes; the marvel of chemosymbiosis

Week 4: Interactions between the organic and inorganic components of chemosynthesis-based ecosystems: how the extreme environments shape their communities, and how the communities shape their extreme environments

Week 5: Geobiology of extreme ecosystems: the main types and characteristics of minerals forming around submarine springs

Week 6: Interpretation of extreme environments: palaeontological, petrological and geochemical characteristics of modern and fossil chemosynthesis-based ecosystems

Week 7: Fossil record of extreme environments

Reading list

Wharton, D.A., 2002. Life at the limits: organisms in extreme environments. Cambridge University Press.

Van Dover, C.L., 2000. The ecology of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents. Princeton.

Kiel, S., 2010. The Vent and Seep Biota: Aspects from Microbes to Ecosystems. Springer-Verlag.

Campbell, K.A., 2006. Hydrocarbon seep and hydrothermal vent paleoenvironments and paleontology: Past developments and future research directions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 232(2-4): 362-407.

Tunnicliffe, V., Juniper, S.K., Sibuet, M., 2003. Reducing environments of the deep sea floor. W: P.A. Tyler (Red.), Ecosystems of the World: The Deep Sea. Elsevier Press, Amsterdam, str. 81-110.

Levin, L.A., 2005. Ecology of cold seep sediments: Interactions of fauna with flow, chemistry and microbes. W: R.N. Gibson, R.J.A. Atkinson, J.D.M. Gordon (Red.), Oceanography and Marine Biology - an Annual Review, Vol. 43. Oceanography and Marine Biology, str. 1-46.