PALEOECOLOGIA

Degree course: 
Corso di Second cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
2020/2021
Year: 
1
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
2020/2021
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: 

The teaching does not require any prerequisite, but it is preferable having attended the Paleontology course in the Bachelor’s degree. However, in the first introductory lesson is made a reappraisal of those topics about fossilization fundamental to understand the contents of the course. Also useful is a basal knowldege of Zoology, Botany and Geology.

Final Examination: 
Orale

Evaluation will be performed with a final test (oral exam) . Exams are scheduled according to the number planned by the Degree Course.
The exam consists of two parts:
1) a deepening of a topic covered during the class, chosen by the student; the un approfondimento su uno degli argomenti trattati, the mode of the presentation is chosen by the student: simply oral presentation, accompanied by Power point slides etc.
2) two questions on topics covered during the class chosen by the teacher among topics of a different area from that chosen by the student for the presentation.
Both the presentaiton and the questions are aimen to ascertain the aquistion of basal knowledge, the ability to individuate and describe with correct language and appropriate use of terms, the links among paleontological data and paleoecological intepretation. Eventual deeper insights in the presentation and the ability to delineate interactions between geological and biological events will represent a further positive element for evaluation.

Assessment: 
Voto Finale

The teaching aims to give to students the knowledge of main aspects of fossils that make them useful ecological markers. Allowing to formulate hypothses about the mode of life of ancient organisms. I twill be explained how fossils, along with sedimentological and paleobiogeographic data can document the evolution of biodiversity and of the selective pressures that led to biotic successions. The latter knowledge represents the basis for the elaboration of interpretative models to explain the great biliogical cricis like mass extinctions, main factors influencing macroevolution.

Learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will be able to:
1. get clues about the environmental adaptation of a fossil species on the basis of its morphology.
2. distinguish in an orictocoenosis (fossil equivalent of a biocoenosis) autochtonous elemts, useful to elaborate a paleoenvironmental interpretation of a fossil assembalge, also with the help of sedimentological data.
3. hypothesize the main features of the depositional environment and thus the biologicla,physical and chemical fenomena that allowed peculiar conservation of fossils in exceptional preservation depostis (fossil lagerstaetten).
4. Deepen the knowledge by critical reading of scientific literature.

Introduction. How fossils are formed, exceptional conservation fossiliferous deposits (fossil Lagertstaetten) definition and classification (concentration, conservation deposits, etc.); excavation methods (in rocks, in inconsolidated sediment) and preparation .
Introduction to Paleoecology Fossils as environmental indicators: Examples; Evidences of diet, Plants as paleoenvironmental, Fossil traces, significance and classification, Brackish and oxygen depleted environments. Reefs, structure and importance as environmental/Paleoenvironmental indicators . Functional morphology as a tool for paleoenvironmental reconstructions.
Environmental successions in the past; Evolution of plant communities, Evolution of Tetrapod Triassic faunas, Evolution of mammal faunas during Late Tertiary; faunal interchanges, exctinction of the megafauna.
Interpretative models Great biological crisis, cause ed effetti; coadaptation and relationships/coevolution organisms-habitat (models compared)
Lagerstaetten Main Lagerstaetten paleoenvironment and depositional environment Burgess, Chenjiang, Sirius Passet; Monte San Giorgio; Calcare di Zorzino; Solnhofen; Holzmaden;Santana Formation, Karoo, Liaoning, Messel, Morrison, Guizhou, Mongolia, Libano, Osteno.

Pdf with the slides of the lessons available on elearning, exceprts form the free access book "Palaeobiology a Sinthesys" available on elearning, free access scientific literature available on elearning. useful but not mandatory, reading relevant chapters of the text book Serpagli Raffi Introduzione alla Paleontologia UTET.

Front lessons, that will be conducted with the help of slides and videos.
Seminar at Museo di Scienze Naturali “Realini” di Malnate that will allow a direct observation of the lithologies of some deposits and of peculiar specimen .
Scientific literature concerning topics of particular interest (e. g. biotic crises) will be illustrated and discussed, with the aim of to bring students to critical reading of scientific papers. And to deepen the knowledge of the main topics covered in the class.

The teacher will receive students for explanation or clarifications of arguments , by appointment via e mail (silvio.renesto@uninsubria.it)

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