Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours)

Basic knowledge of zoology, botanic, and organic and inorganic chemistry.

Final Examination: 

There will be final written exams for evaluating: a) the acquired knowledge and the gained comprehension of key ecological issues (60%), b) ability in applying the acquired knowledge for discussing the environmental thematic (20%) and c) autonomy in interpreting the principal ecological theories (20%).

Voto Finale

The course is devoted to deeply analyze the major questions, approaches, applications and tools of modern ecology. This will include consideration of physical, chemical, and biological components of the ecosystems. The many threats facing the natural resources will be also considered in topic lectures.
Learning outcomes: Understand and explain major ecological concepts. Use scientific skills to analyze and solve ecological problems. Effectively communicate ecological problems and solutions.
Formulate logical hypotheses and test them by designing appropriate experiments analyses.
Use scientific knowledge of ecology to analyze present environmental crisis. Objective of the course will be the understanding of the gene-culture co-evolutionary process addressed in the thematic lessons on human ecology.
At the end of the course the student will have gained the following skills: a) knowledge on the principal environmental problematic; b) ability in analyzing the different levels of the life forms organization; c) understanding of the basic mechanisms of interaction between biotic and abiotic components.

The course will develop the following topics: energy flows at the biosphere and biological levels (10 hours): 1- the solar electromagnetic spectrum; 2- the fate of solar electromagnetic energy in the biosphere; 3- the Odum model; 4- food webs 5- the ecological implications of the laws of thermodynamics. Structural and functional properties of populations (7 hours): 1- tolerance and limiting factors; 2- demographic pyramids; 3- mode of dispersion of individuals; 4- growth models of the populations r- and K strategist. Structural properties of communities (7 hours): 1- the concept of biodiversity; 2- tools for measuring biodiversity; 3- factors that promote and reduce biodiversity. Biogeochemical cycles of the main elements (5 hours): 1- water cycle; 2- carbon cycle; 3- phosphorus cycle; 4- nitrogen cycle. Main natural ecosystems of the biosphere (3 hours). Elements of numerical analysis of biodiversity (5 hours): 1- species richness; 2- evenness; 3- heterogeneity. Examples of ecological management of environmental problems and ecosystem services (3 hours). Basis of human ecology (6 hours): 1- the evolutionary path of H. sapiens; 2- gene-culture coevolution. Basics of molecular ecology (2 hours)

Level of organization: the ecological hierarchy, importance of time and scale, the emergent property principle. The ecosystem: abiotic component, environmental resources and conditions, tolerance and limiting factors, gradient and ecotones, habitat and niches, open and close ecosystems. Energy: energy laws, solar radiation, ozone shield, energy flow through the biosphere and through biological components, food web, solar radiation and climate. Material cycles: the biogeochemical cycles, the hydrological cycles, water scarcity and rain shadow, carbon ozone nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Population and community ecology: r- and K grown forms, human population grown, competition, fecundity and mortality. Ecosystem services: examples and case studies. Major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem types. Biodiversity: species richness, evenness and heterogeneity. Human ecology: gene-culture coevolution. Basis of molecular ecology at community and population levels.

Elementi di Ecologia T.M. Smith e R.L. Smith, ed. Pearson; Basi di Ecologia E.P. Odum, ed. Piccin.
Slides and the electronic material used in the course will be placed in the e-learning site.

The educational objectives will be achieved during 48 hours of lectures. During the course, specific case studies will be presented and discussed in order to promote the student ability of applying the acquired knowledge.

Student reception on appointment