Biogeography

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL AND NATURAL SCIENCES
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
2017/2018
Year: 
2
Academyc year when helding the course: 
2018/2019
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Credits: 
6
Period: 
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
48
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours)
Requirements: 

Basic knowledge of Geography, of General Ecology is required for a profitable learning in the course. In particular, knowledge of zoology, specifically vertebrate zoology, will be important, aimed at taxonomic determinations and species biological characteristics that help to understand the various habitat-type interaction modes. It is also necessary to understand the English language to be used for reading extracts from publications, scientific texts, and manual.
There are no constraints on propedeuticity.

Final Examination: 
Orale

The final test is an oral examination. The student will answer and elaborate on some questions (one of which on a subject of choice) based on the course syllabus, both on general topics and on specific methodologies.
The final examination is aimed at assessing the achievement of the learning objectives defined above, first evaluating the comprehension of basig general concepts, then delving further into the ability to use thrm to solve real-world issues.
The final score (expressed in marks out of 30) will be based on comprehension (30%), capacity to apply theoretical concepts to real cases (30%), autonomy of judgement (20%) and communication skills (20%).
It will also be carried out on-the-job tests based on the analysis, understanding and exposure of the content of scientific articles relating to the contents of the course.

Assessment: 
Voto Finale

The course will contribute to providing and completing the information needed to provide an adequate knowledge of the biology of animal and plant living organisms, including issues related to their conservation and sustainable management.
The general objectives of the course are: I) to acquire the critical evaluation tools to obtain an adequate understanding of the interactions between the biotic components II) to acquire the critical evaluation tools to obtain an adequate knowledge of the natural-environmental and landscape issues in particular of the European area III) apply synergistically biological-naturalistic knowledge with other disciplines IV) improve your dissemination skills by exploiting the acquired knowledge.
Knowledge will be given on spatial distribution and evolution of biodiversity along space and time, as well as the theoretical and methodological bases for biogeographical analysis. In particular, the concepts of biological evolution in the space-time context, the concept of species and the principles of phylogenetic analysis will be studied and analyzed with the aim of promoting a propensity to critical analysis in a multidisciplinary context. The specific objective is to gain a detailed knowledge of the biogeographical events that have led to the current fauna in both the Mediterranean and the Italian fauna, including human biogeography and hominid evolution.

The contents of the Biogeography course are as follows:

Historical evolution, foundations and aims of conservation of biocenosis and biodiversity, techniques of analysis of the field and modern techniques of analysis and synthesis of biogeographic data (8 hours)

Background
• Predarwinian biogeography, Darwin and Wallace, current themes
• Historical origins, definition, field of investigation and purpose of biogeography
• History and role of biogeography in modern evolutionary biology
• Dispersion and vicariance comparison

Theoretical and methodological assumptions for biogeographic analysis
• The biological evolution in the space-time context, the concept of species and its definition
• Reproductive isolation, specimens models, phylogenetic analysis principles
• Foundations of geographical ecology; biotic communities and ecosystems. The ecological niche: definition, theoretical models

Distribution Area
• Range concept
• Analysis, definition and representation of the distribution range
• Dispersion, barriers, extinction
• Endemism, pandemic and cosmopolitan concepts
• Ecology of range

Historical biogeography, paleobiogeography, living organisms through geological eras and continental drift influences (14 hours).

Insular biogeography
• Insularity theory
• Turnover of species
• Islands and conservation of nature
• Characteristics of the island biota

Systematic biogeography
• The definition of biogeographical regions, corollary categories, general tracks
• Biogeographical regions: floristic and faunistic peculiarities

Elements of phytogeography
• Biogeographical regions, corollary categories, general tracks from the point of view of plant biology
• Phytogeography
• Distribution of the main floristic groups and their interpretation

Ecobiogeography and Animal Dispersion
• The nature of the barriers
• Active and passive dispersion models
• Communities, biomes, biosphere
• The phenomenon of extinction

Marine biogeography, animal distribution, distribution patterns of the main groups (invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and their interpretation (18 hours).

Biogeography of the Mediterranean Sea and origin of the Italian fauna
• The main faunistic groups and their history
• Italian fauna: distribution and peculiarities
• Main fauna groups, endemics, distribution

Human biogeography, biogeography of progenitors of the first hominids in the Homo genus (2 hours).

At least 6 hours will be dedicated to reading and commenting on scientific articles and preparing specific public presentations of biogeographic topics already discussed in the course.

Barry Cox C., Moore P.D., 2010. Biogeography : An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach. John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Pdf files of each lesson available on-line (Insubria e-learning web site).

Front-end lessons with practical exemplifications. The purpose of the exemplifications is to develop the analytical capacity and understanding of specific competences acquired by evaluating the resolution of specific management and conservation issues.
Specific group work will also be organized with the aim of enhancing their dissemination skills by exploiting the acquired knowledge.

The teacher in charge is always available, subject to the arrangement of an appointment by e-mail.
At students request, the teacher will use the first part of a lecture to clarify or elaborate on previous lectures topics. It is also possible to ask for elucidations during the lectures.
The use of the e-learning platform (forums, glossaries) is highly recommended to share among students any requested issue.

Professors