PLANT BIODIVERSITY AND EVOLUTION

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL AND NATURAL SCIENCES
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
2018/2019
Year: 
3
Academyc year when helding the course: 
2020/2021
Course type: 
Supplementary compulsory subjects
Credits: 
6
Period: 
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
60
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (36 hours)
Requirements: 

Knowledge of the topics addressed by the botanical classes of the second year, in particular "Biological and Taxonomic Diversity of Plants" and "Environmental Botany"

Final Examination: 
Orale

There will be a unique final written examination with three open questions focusing on the topics addressed during the class. For every question the maximum score will be 10, allowing to achieve a final score of 30/30. The minimum sufficient score for each question (6/10) will be achieved providing the main knowledge of the main topics and problems addressed by the specific question, with emphasis on the most important issues, as underlined during the class. The evaluation will increase depending on the completeness of the answers for each question, of the details of the knowledge and information provided, of the capability of the student to identify and describe the relation among the selected topics. The evaluation 30/30 with laude will be attributed when the student preparation will be more than excellent.

Assessment: 
Voto Finale

The main aim of this class is to rovide to the student specific knowledge on two main topics "biodiversity" and "evolution of plants". These topics will be addressed starting from defining the concept of "species", defining "biodiversity", analyzing which are the best methods to analyse and quantify the biological diversity, define and analyse the evolution processes with reference to the terrestrial plants, and addressing also the most important basis of conservation biology. An overview of the main scientific issues concerning plant evolution will be provided analyzing the scientific literature and focusing on the methods of the main papers to study the research topics. The knowledge obtained by following this class will be useful for the student specialization allowing to better approach both the thesis as well as the master degree. Practical activities will include visiting of research laboratories and museums.

At the end of this class the student will be able to:
1. discuss the most important and up to date topics concerning the study of plants
2. locate each plant group in the frame of a phylogenetic and evolutive context;
3. recognize the main stages of the onthogenetic cycles of plants;
4. identify and recognize the main anatomic traits of plants
5. use proxy data achieved from plants to reconstruct the processes shaping the evolution of ecosystems
6. discuss on the best methods to investigate the reconstruction of plant evolution
7. be able to properly explain the topics addressed by the class,
8. develope a critical and indipendent point of view on the topics addressed by the class
9. develope his/her own learning abilities also through the link between the different topics

The class is organized in two main topics: a) biodiversity; b) evolution
A) Biodiversity
Biodiversity: definitions and components, biodiversity types (α, β, ϒ) and factors influencing biodiversity.
Lessons: 6 hours
Methods to analyse and quantify biodiversity at different scales and focusing on different scientific problems.
Lessons: 4 hours
Biodiversity patterns at global scale. Latitudinal and geographical diversity gradients and factors driving the distribution trends of the main taxa (including also an evolutive approach). Biodiversity hot-spots.
Lessons: 6 hours
Hypotheses and models of biodiversity patterns (e.g. island biogeography and its application for biodiversity conservation; species-area curves).
Lessons: 6 hours
Definitions of species rarity.
Sampling strategies and methods for the assessment and quantification of biodiversity.
Lessons: 2 hours
Conservation biology
Definition and main issues; main threats to biodiversity with special emphasis on habitat fragmentation and homogenization and to alien species. Main factors driving species extinctions. Species conservation issues. Definitions of species conservation status according to IUCN and Red Lists.
Lessons: 2 hours
B. Evolution
Relation between plant evolution and the most important environmental and climatic events happened at global scale, focosing on different geological periods and on the effect of past climatic changes and main tectonic and geological events. Examples of the origin and evolution of particular floristic elements; mountain flora and desert flora.
Lessons: 6 hours
Plant derived proxy data (e.g. pollen) and their use for the reconstruction of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental conditions and events with specific examples relating to palinology
Methods for the analysis and the reconstruction of plant evolution with reference to molecular tools, including the concept of “molecular clock” for the dating of the main evolutive splits. Examples from the actual scientific literature on the use of these methods applied to the main groups of land plants.
Lessons: 4 hours
Peculiarities of vegetation organisms (cells and tissues) and some examples on the use of physiological measurements on selected scientific case studies (with special reference to moss cryptobiosis).
Lessons: 4 hours

The class is organized in two main topics: a) biodiversity; b) evolution
A) Biodiversity
Biodiversity: definitions and components, biodiversity types (α, β, ϒ) and factors influencing biodiversity.
Lessons: 6 hours
Methods to analyse and quantify biodiversity at different scales and focusing on different scientific problems.
Lessons: 4 hours
Biodiversity patterns at global scale. Latitudinal and geographical diversity gradients and factors driving the distribution trends of the main taxa (including also an evolutive approach). Biodiversity hot-spots.
Lessons: 6 hours
Hypotheses and models of biodiversity patterns (e.g. island biogeography and its application for biodiversity conservation; species-area curves).
Lessons: 6 hours
Definitions of species rarity.
Sampling strategies and methods for the assessment and quantification of biodiversity.
Lessons: 2 hours
Conservation biology
Definition and main issues; main threats to biodiversity with special emphasis on habitat fragmentation and homogenization and to alien species. Main factors driving species extinctions. Species conservation issues. Definitions of species conservation status according to IUCN and Red Lists.
Lessons: 2 hours
B. Evolution
Relation between plant evolution and the most important environmental and climatic events happened at global scale, focosing on different geological periods and on the effect of past climatic changes and main tectonic and geological events. Examples of the origin and evolution of particular floristic elements; mountain flora and desert flora.
Lessons: 6 hours
Plant derived proxy data (e.g. pollen) and their use for the reconstruction of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental conditions and events with specific examples relating to palinology
Methods for the analysis and the reconstruction of plant evolution with reference to molecular tools, including the concept of “molecular clock” for the dating of the main evolutive splits. Examples from the actual scientific literature on the use of these methods applied to the main groups of land plants.
Lessons: 4 hours
Peculiarities of vegetation organisms (cells and tissues) and some examples on the use of physiological measurements on selected scientific case studies (with special reference to moss cryptobiosis).
Lessons: 4 hours

The lecture slides (files .pptx or .pdf) will be provided to the students at the end of the lectures of each main topic. Moreover, the pdf files of the most important scientific papers cited during the lectures will be provided.
Text books:
Strasburger. Trattato di Botanica. Volume 2: Sistematica e Geobotanica. Antonio Delfino Editore
Mauseth "Botanica" Edizione Italiana, Editoriale Grasso
Pasqua, Abbate, Forni, II ed. (2011) - Botanica generale e diversità vegetale. Piccin, Padova

The teaching activities will include lectures and field practices/training. The lectures will be performed through videoconference turning the lecture site between Como and Varese. During the lessons the students' participation will be stimulated by the exam of case studies and of scientific papers focusing on the topics addressed by the class. Two field activities (8 hours each) for visiting laboratories or museums will be carried out
Lessons in class: 36 hours
External activites: 24 hours

The visiting time will be personalized and will be fixed by e-mail (nicoletta.cannone@uninsubria.it).

Professors