Fundamental of ecology and forestry

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
AGR/05 BIO/07
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide knowledge about the physical environment where organisms live; the relationships between individuals, populations, communities and their environment; the basic elements useful to study ecosystems.
Moreover, the course aims to provide knowledge about the classification and structure of forest stands; the analysis of forest ecosystem services; the comprehension of appropriate forest management strategies and schedules.
Knowledge of the functioning of forest ecosystems, their ecosystem services, the effects of climate change, and the tools to maximize the former and mitigate the latter, is essential for AT graduates to plan and implement an effective and sustainable use of natural resources, in particular forests.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student shall acquire:
- Basic knowledge on the structure and functions of ecosystems, in order to achieve the skills for sustainable management of the environment.
- Capacity to describe the structure and composition of forest stands using quantitative indicators.
- Capacity to recognize the main forest cover types in Lombardy and to estimate their natural development.
- Capacity to assign prevalent ecosystem services to forest stands and to decide on the best management strategy to attain them
- Capacity to recognize the boundaries of social, economic and environmental sustainability, complying to the limitations imposed by forest regulations, estimating the efficacy of forest management strategies towards the mitigation and adaptation to climate change in forests.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics.
Working knowledge of English (B2)
Assessment methods and Criteria
Module 1:
Written test (2 hours) with two short essay questions and one quantitative ecology exercise.

Module 2:
Oral exam (0-18 / 30) + herbarium with 20 forest species (0-6 / 30) + written descriptive report of a forest population (0-6 / 30). Herbarium and report must be prepared according to the instructions communicated at the beginning of the course and published on Ariel in the teaching material.
Evaluation criteria:
a) herbarium: correct classification and knowledge of the ecology and forestry of the species
b) report: correct use of silvicultural terminology, correctness of dendrometric calculations, correctness and quality of maps, quantitative graphs and bibliography, consistency between site and dendrometric characteristics of the forest, its main function and the management recommendation, level of detail of the management recommendation and its compliance with forest regulations.
c) oral questions: knowledge of the main ecological factors, ecosystem services, and management systems of the main forest types of Lombardy; knowledge of silvicultural techniques for hydrogeological protection, forest fire prevention, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.

The modules can be tested independently of each other. The final mark is the arithmetic mean of the marks of the two modules, rounded up. The 30 cum laude is worth 33 points.
Fundamentals of ecology
Course syllabus
-Introduction to ecology: What is ecology. Hierarchy and definition of biosphere organization levels.
-The ecosystems: Ecosystem concept. Ecosystem structure. The Gaia hypothesis. Aquatic (fresh- and marine waters) and terrestrial ecosystems. Agroecosystems. Ecotones. Habitat and ecological niche concept.
-The Biogeochemical cycles: Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and water cycles.
-The limiting factors in ecosystems: Liebig's law of the minimum. Shelford's law of tolerance. Analysis of the main limiting factors in the environment.
-The Energy in ecosystems: Fundamental concepts on energy. Primary and secondary productivity. Trophic levels.
-Population ecology: Distribution, density and dispersion of populations.
-Population dynamics: Population growth. Exponential and logistic growth models. Mortality and survival curves. Carrying capacity of the ecosystems. r and K selections. Mechanisms of population regulation. Intraspecific competition. Metapopulations.
-Community Ecology: Biodiversity Concepts and theories. Diversity Indices. Interactions between populations. Interspecific competition. Lotka-Volterra Model and Gause's law. Predation, symbiosis and parasitism.
-Dynamics of ecosystems: Ecological succession and climax community.
-Introduction to applied ecology: Pollution in the different environmental compartments and recovery strategies. Water pollution, eutrophication and Wastewater Treatment Plants. Air pollution, acid rain and ozone depletion. Soil pollution. Indoor pollution.
-Quantitative ecology exercises: Application of the theoretical concepts illustrated in frontal lessons by means of classroom exercises.
Teaching methods
Lectures and classroom exercises about quantitative ecology.
Attendance is strongly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Slides and course notes.
Smith TM, Smith RL. (2015) Elements of Ecology, 9th Edition. Pearson Publisher
Course syllabus
The forest ecosystem: definition, biotic and abiotic components, net and gross primary productivity. The flows of energy and matter in the forest. · The relationships between forest ecosystems and the main ecological factors (water, light, wind, fire) · The natural dynamics of forest ecosystems · The structure of forest ecosystems · Forest vegetation and climate: phytoclimatic classifications and vegetation plans. · Primary and secondary succession · Ecology of natural disturbances: fire, wind, biotic agents.

Silviculture: definition, aims, close-to-nature silviculture, sustainable silviculture. · Coppice, coppice with standards, uneven-aged coppice· Management of high forests (clearcut, shelterwood, selection cutting) · Thinning: purposes and application. · Conversions: goals and application. The conversion from coppice to high forest· Landscape ecology and forest management . Management of secondary forests and control of invasive alien species. Urban forests and green infrastructures.

Outline of the main forest types in northern Italy and their silvicultural management ·Direct protection forests · Silviculture and biodiversity. Forest regulations in Italy and Lombardy. Elements of forest planning. Forests in territorial planning tools.
Teaching methods
32 hours: frontal lessons. 8 hours: classroom exercise.
There are two field trips at the beginning and at the end of the course (extra hours, not compulsory).
Teaching Resources
Slides and course notes; compulsory study material provided by the teachers on the Ariel website of the current year's course.
Piussi P., Alberti G., 2015. Selvicoltura generale: boschi, società e tecniche colturali. Compagnia delle Foreste, Arezzo.
Paci M., 2004 - Ecologia forestale. Elementi di conoscenza dei sistemi forestali. Ed. il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole, Bologna.
Bernetti G., Del Favero R., Pividori M., 2012 - Selvicoltura produttiva. Manuale tecnico. Ed. Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole: XIII-225 pp.
Del Favero R., 2004 - I boschi delle regioni alpine italiane. Tipologia, funzionamento, selvicoltura. CLEUP, Padova
Fundamentals of ecology
BIO/07 - ECOLOGY - University credits: 4
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Magni Stefano
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professors: Campagnaro Thomas, Trentanovi Giovanni, Vacchiano Giorgio
Educational website(s)
prearrange by email
DISAA sez. Idraulica