Degree course: 
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
Academyc year when helding the course: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (56 hours), Exercise (16 hours)

No specific scientific knowledge is required, although reference will be made to basic concepts of Cell Biology, Ecology, Biogeography and Physical Geography as illustrated in other courses.

Final Examination: 

Evaluation of knowledge and skills acquired by students will take place at the end of the course with two partial tests, namely through a written test and a oral discussion of a written report, at the end of which a single vote expressed in thirtyths will be recorded.
The written test will be held in classroom without the help of notes or books and will cover 10 open-ended questions. Students will have 2 hours at their disposal. In addition, all students are required to submit a written report on vegetation description and analyzes carried out during one of the field exercises. Alternatively, students who did not attend field exercises for serious and documented reasons, may present an equivalent report on a study area previously agreed with the teacher, following the rules explained in classroom lessons and available on the e-learning platform.
The final evaluation will take into account the knowledge acquired during classroom lessons by mean of the written test (50%), as well as the ability to organize a technical report concerning vegetation description (30%), the ability to apply theoretical concepts to real cases (10%) and communicative skills (10%), by discussing the written report.

Voto Finale

General aim of the course is to provide specific knowledge about plant species and communities in relation to their environment, applying principles of biology, ecology and biogeography. In details, main plant communities belonging to the Italian vegetation are defined and analyzed, constantly referring to the European context, and are provided tools for their sampling, identification and description. The bases for landscape interpretation by mean of plant communities and the recognition of natural habitats of the Community Directive 43/92/EC are also laid out. Expected learning outcomes relate to the ability to detect and classify plant communities, as well as the ability to assess their relation with environmental drivers and their degree of naturalness, providing basis for an integrated environmental analysis. Students should be able to apply the acquired knowledge as basics to management, monitoring and mapping of ecosystems, starting from plant communities analysis.

Module of Basic Plant Biology (16 hours - II year)
Plant cells characteristics, with particular reference to plastids, cell wall and vacuole
Classification and characteristics of plant tissues: meristematic tissues (primary and secondary) and permanent tissues (parenchyma, protective, sclerenchyma, collenchyma, transport, secretory)
Anatomy and adaptation of main organs of higher plants (leaf, stem and root)
Main plant physiological functions (photosynthesis, mineral nutrition and transport)
Module of Plant Ecology (16 hours)
Life forms and their distribution in respect of latitudinal and altitude gradients
Biotic interactions and metabolism
Pollination, dispersion and life cycle
Concepts of optimum and niche applied to plants
Soil and climate drivers, disturbance and stress
Plant functional types and plant strategies
Global spectrum of plant form and function
Concepts of plant community, formation and association
Vegetation sampling and analysis, the phytosociological method
Vegetation dynamic, successions and series
Module of Plant Biogeography and Bioclimatology (16 hours - III year)
Range, phytogeographical regions and distribution of plant biodiversity
Chorological types of Italian flora
Species concept applied to plants and main speciation processes
Endemism and vicariance
Climate and bioclimatic indices
Bio-climates and natural potential vegetation of Italy
Phytogeography of the Alps, timberline, vegetation belts and forest regions
Quaternary history of flora and vegetation
Module analysis of Italian vegetation (24 hours)
Vegetation of coasts and of the Mediterranean region
Wetland and riparian vegetation
Plain, hill and mountain broadleaf forests
Broadleaf shrubs and heathlands
Mountain and subalpine coniferous forests
Subalpine shrubs and heaths
Vegetation of the Alpine belt (prairies, snow beds, rocks and screes)
Synanthropic and semi-natural vegetation (meadows and pastures)
Principles of farming and forestry
Introduction to natural habitats of the Community Directive 43/92/EC

Presentations of the lessons are available to students in pdf format on the e-learning platform of the course
Recommended texts (general):
Grime J.P., Pierce S. (2012) The Evolutionary Strategies that Shape Ecosystems. Wiley-Blackwell
Pignatti S. (1997) Ecologia del Paesaggio. UTET
Strasburger E. (2007) Trattato di botanica. Vol. 2: Evoluzione sistematica ed ecologia. Antonio Delfino Editore
Ubaldi D. (2003) Flora, fitocenosi e ambiente (Elementi di geobotanica e fitosociologia). CLUEB
Recommended texts (vegetation):
Pignatti S. (1998) I boschi d'Italia (Sinecologia e biodiversità). UTET
Polunin O., Walters M. (1987) Guida alle vegetazioni d'Europa. Zanichelli
Reisigl H., Keller R. (1990) Fiori e ambienti delle Alpi. Arti Grafiche Saturnia
Reisigl H., Keller R. (1995) Guida al bosco di montagna. Zanichelli
Suggested texts for further information (general):
Bullini L., Pignatti S., Virzo De Santo A. (2004) Ecologia generale. UTET
Gerola F.M. (1994) Biologia e Diversità dei Vegetali. UTET
Smith T.M., Smith R.L. (2009) Elementi di Ecologia. Pearson Ed.
Zunino M., Zullini A. (2004) Biogeografia. La dimensione spaziale dell’evoluzione. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana
Suggested texts for further information (vegetation):
Ellenberg H. (2009) Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe. Cambridge University Press
Giacomini V., Fenaroli L. (1957) La Flora-Collana Conosci l'Italia vol.2. T.C.I.
Ozenda P. (1994) Végétation du Continent Européen. Delachaux et Niestlè


The course objectives will be achieved through classroom lessons for 56 hours in total. In order to promote training in the use of the skills learned during classroom lessons, the course also includes exercises many of which in the field in part of the environments shown in the course (Central-Northern Italy, Alps) for 32 hours in total, whose attendance is highly recommended.
At students request, at the start of each lesson the teacher will provide clarifications and insights concerning topics discussed in previous lessons. It will be also possible to ask for clarification at any time during lessons.

Teacher is always available for urgent matters at the e-mail address Using the same e-mail address is also possible to arrange meetings in the teacher's office placed by DiSTA via J.H. Dunant, 3 in Varese (third floor)