STRESS ECOLOGY

Degree course: 
Corso di Second cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
2020/2021
Year: 
2
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
2021/2022
Course type: 
Supplementary compulsory subjects
Credits: 
6
Period: 
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
64
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (32 hours), Exercise (32 hours)
Requirements: 

Knowledge of general and applied ecology, ecotoxicology, environmental chemistry. Finally, an understanding of the spoken and written English language is necessary since the slides the teacher will use in class will be frequently in English, as well as extracts from publications, scientific articles and manuals.

Final oral exam. In addition to the level of depth of the topics covered, the teacher positively considers for the purposes of the final evaluation: the ability to organize knowledge discursively; the capacity for critical reasoning on the study carried out; the quality of the exhibition, competence in the use of specialist vocabulary, effectiveness, linearity, etc.

Assessment: 
Voto Finale

The course aims to provide the student with tools to understand the importance of the role of environmental stresses in determining the exposure and effects of chemicals on ecosystems, especially taking into account their variability in a context of climate change. The teaching is part of the Master's Degree and Environmental Climate Change and Chemical Risk curricula and is an ideal complement to the Environmental Risk Assessment and Environmental Fate Modeling of the Contaminants present in the Master's degree. It can be also characterized as in-depth study of the subjects dealt with in the Ecotoxicology course.

Expected Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will be able to:
1. know the main stress agents that influence exposure and effects of contaminants on ecosystems;
2. illustrate the relevance of their changes in determining response in ecosystems
3. implement mitigation actions to reduce exposures and effects in certain environmental scenarios

The course deepens and expands issues dealt with in ecotoxicology, illustrating the relevance of stressors and their variations in influencing exposure to pollutants (change of levels and modalities) and the consequent responses of living beings,
The course deals in particular with the following topics:
Part 1: FRONTAL LESSONS (32 h)
- Recalls of general ecology, concept of ecological niche and limiting factors, the concept of traits
- Ecotoxicology references: exposure to chemical agents and effects
- Main stressors: 1) Chemical-physical: temperature, pH, salinity; 2) Linked to resources: nutrients, water, food, O2, organic carbon; 3) Related to populations: predation, density etc.
- Variations of stressors in different conditions, for example those related directly to climate change: variation of the stocks of organic carbon in the environmental media, variations of the precipitation and erosion regime, etc.
- changes in the use and emission of the chemicals following changes in the scenario (e.g. temperature and drought, resuspension of sediments following unexpected meteorological events, volatilization towards deposition, etc.)
- variations in the bioaccumulation of contaminants in aquatic and terrestrial trophic chains in different stressor conditions
- changes in the response of organisms from different populations to changed environmental conditions, effects on changes in the composition of communities
- mitigation actions to reduce the risk of ecosystems
Part 2: EXERCISES (32 hours) The exercises will allow you to evaluate the variability of exposure and responses of some populations in different environmental scenarios subjected to the co-variation of other stressors (e.g. temperature) through implementation and use of different modeling approaches by students.

Steinberg, C., 2011. Stress ecology: environmental stress as ecological driving force and key player in evolution. Springer, Dordrecht; New York.
Battisti, C., Poeta, G., Fanelli, G., 2016. An Introduction to Disturbance Ecology: A Road Map for Wildlife Management and Conservation, Environmental Science and Engineering. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
Slides in pdf format will also be made available on the e-learning site

Frontal lessons and computer exercises. The discussion of the various topics will be carried out through PowerPoint presentations (with slides in English) projected in the classroom.
During the exercises, the skills acquired will be exploited by applying them to the resolution of specific problems, such as the variation of exposure to chemical substances and the effects of this substance on organisms belonging to different trophic chains following the variability of some scenarios, due for example , to global climate change.
In the exercises, students will work individually under the guidance of the teacher and an exerciser
A final report is expected, which must be presented at the time of the oral exam.

Contact the teacher by e-mail to make an appointment (antonio.diguardo@uninsubria.it)

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