Plant biodiversity and systematic
Recommended: knowledge on systematic botany and vegetation ecology.
As the slides of the lectures will be in English, a good knowledge (at least of written English) is required.
Purpose and Scope
This class aims to provide an advanced knowledge on climate change impacts on plant biodiversity and terrestrial ecosystems, focusing on issues relating to analysis, monitoring and management of plant biodiversity, providing to the students the competences needed to develop environmental management plans focusing on mitigation and adaptation to climate change and to other relevant environmental disturbance factors. For these aims, also a wide range of practical examples, including the use of suitable analysis/monitoring methods Will be provided to the students for the most relevant topics. Moreover, a special emphasis will be devoted to the importance of the convergent and similar impacts associated to climate change and to land use change, providing insights on practical and management issues, mainly focusing on mid-latitude ecosystems.
The field trip will be the occasion for the students to apply their knowledge to practical issues focusing on a case study representative of one or more key topics of the lectures. During the field trip the students will have to perform practical field analyses and monitoring (using different methods), developing a specific “research” project following the same organization and approach of a scientific publication. In this way the students will have the chance to test their theoretical and practical knowledge and to approach the topics through a critical approach involving topics and methods.
There will be a unique final examination (oral if the students are ≤ 5, otherwise written) and to be admitted to the final examination it is mandatory to provide the personal/individual report of the field trip, which has to be formally approved by the professor.
The class is organized in three main issues: 1) climate change; 2) biodiversity; 3) conservation biology.
1. Climate Change
Climate Change and Global Change: definitions, main impacts, causes. Past climatic changes and their consequences on biota.
H. lectures: 4; h. laboratory practices: 0.
Evidences of recent climate change. Main impacts on the terrestrial ecosystems: effects on species spatial distribution (range shift), floristic composition and structure of vegetation ecosystems, processes (at different hierarchical levels, from species to ecosystem) and consequences on ecosystem services.
H. lectures: 6; h. laboratory practices: 4.
Impacts of climate change and of land use change at different latitudes with different case studies (woodland ecosystems from low to high latitudes; arctic and alpine vegetation). Climate change impacts on ecosystem functional processes with practical examples concerning species phenology, productivity, biogeochemical cycles (e.g., C cycle).
H. lectures: 8; h. laboratory practices: 6.
Adaptation and mitigation to climate change. Methods to assess, analyze and monitor climate change impacts.
H. lectures: 2; h. laboratory practices: 2.
Biodiversity: definitions and components, biodiversity types (α, β, ϒ) and factors influencing biodiversity. Methods to analyse and quantify biodiversity at different scales and focusing on different scientific problems.
H. lectures: 4; h. laboratory practices: 6.
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. Hypothesis and models of biodiversity patterns (e.g. island biogeography and its application for biodiversity conservation; species-area curves). Definitions of species rarity.
H. lectures: 4; h. laboratory practices: 2.
Sampling strategies and methods for the assessment and quantification of biodiversity.
H. lectures: 4; h. laboratory practices: 4.
3. 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.
H. lectures: 4; h. laboratory practices: 0.
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.