Ecology

A.Y. 2020/2021
9
Max ECTS
80
Overall hours
SSD
BIO/07
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The teaching aims at providing the basic principles of ecology, i.e. the scientific investigation of the distribution and abundance of organisms and of the interactions that determine distribution and abundance, as well as of the fluxes of energy and matter of the ecosphere. It aims at providing an integrative outlook to ecosystem functioning and to the hierarchical levels of organization of the biosphere, from individuals to populations and ecosystems, highlighting the human impact on the biosphere and the interactions between ecosystem processes and human activities. Ultimately, the course aims at stimulating a scientific approach to the conservation of natural resources and sustainable development.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the teaching, the student must be able to recognize ecosystem processes, use the main methods for measuring the quality of terrestrial and aquatic environments and use sampling methods in different ecosystems. He will also have to know the different interactions between organisms (e.g. competition, predation, symbiosis, parasitism), as well as the methods of growth of a population.
The student will develop these skills not only through lectures, but also through written exercises. The ability to communicate what has been learned will be tested through the teacher's questions during the lessons and through the exercises that will be carried out individually and then corrected by the teacher during the hours devoted to exercises. In this way, the student will also acquire a multidisciplinary study method that will allow him to connect the different parts that constitute the holistic knowledge of the ecology, to be exploited in future studies.
Course syllabus and organization

A - L

Responsible
Lesson period
First semester
Following the decisions taken by the Faculty of Science and Technology to hold the teachings of the first semester 2020-21 in telematic mode, the Ecology Teaching will be held in synchronous telematic mode, with lessons in which the Teacher is directly present, with whom direct interaction will be possible.
Course syllabus
The ecosystem: structure and functions. Production and decomposition, cybernetic control of the ecosystem. The Gaia hypothesis: the hearth ecosystem, its evolution and feedback systems.
Limiting factors: Liebig and Shelford laws and related examples. Habitat and ecological niche. Biogeochemical cycles: nitrogen, phosphorous, carbon and water.
Population structure: thickness, age and sex composition, specimen distribution.
Population dynamic: natality, mortality, survival and fecundity slopes, slopes of exponential and logistic growth, fluctuation and regulation. Migration and dispersal in time and space, r and k selection.
Population interactions, competition and coexistence, predation, parasitism, allelopathy, commensalism, mutualism, symbiosis.
Community structure: composition, richness slopes and diversity indeces, spatial dispersal, trophic organization. Food webs: grazing and detritus chains. Community dynamic: evolution and ecological successions. Matter and energy transfer. Quality and quantity of energy. Primary productivity, ecosystem productivity, trophic pyramids, ecological efficiency.
Biodiversity: energetic theory and other hypoteses, Index of Shannon-Weaver and island theory.
Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, autotrophic and eterotrophic environments. Top- down and bottom-up control.
Climate change and its consequences. Loss of biodiversity and habitat.
Prerequisites for admission
To deal with the topics of the teaching of Ecology, it is recommended to have acquired skills in mathematics, general chemistry, physics, zoology, botany and genetics.
Teaching methods
The teaching will mainly be based on interactive frontal lessons supported by projected slides. Students will be stimulated to actively participate in the lesson to improve their logical and critical skills, learning to communicate the concepts in a scientific way. Seminars may also be organized on specific environmental issues. At the end of the course, written exercises will be held which will focus on the application of numerous concepts theoretically expressed during the lectures.
Attendance is strongly recommended.
Teaching Resources
The recommended texts for exam preparation are:
Environmental Sciences, G. Tyler Miller Jr., Edises srl.
Elements of Ecology, T. Smith & R.L. Smith, Pearson eds.
It is also highly recommended to have good notes from the lectures and exercises carried out.
All slides shown during the lessons are available on the ARIEL website and can be freely downloaded by the students.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will be done in writing form and will include two open questions on the topics covered during the teaching and an exercise based on the exercises provided. In addition to the skills acquired, the exhibition clarity and ability to connect the different parts of the topics requested will also be assessed.
BIO/07 - ECOLOGY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 64 hours

M - Z

Responsible
Lesson period
First semester
Lectures and practices will take place online. Exams will take place in the classroom, according to the University regulations
Course syllabus
Ecosystems: flux of energy through ecosystems; primary and secondary productivity; limiting factors; food chains; grazers and decomposers; terrestrial biomes; flux of matter through ecosystems; hydrological cycle and main biogeochemical cycles (P, N, C); human impacts
Populations: characteriscs of populations; population dynamics; exponential and logistic growth curves; life tables; population regulation; metapopulations; exctinction processess
Communities: biodiversity; species richness; diversity indices; trophic webs; ecological successions; island biogeography
Species interactions: intra- and interspecific competition and coexistence; predation, parasitism, commensalism, mutualism, symbiosis; ecological niche concept; alien and invasive species
Organisms: heterothermy and endothermy; species concept, speciation, adaptation; life cycles; fitness and reproductive investment
Human impact on the biosphere and sustainability
Prerequisites for admission
It is expected that the students have basic notions of Plant biology and systematics, Animal biology and systematcis, Biochemistry, Evolutionary Biology.
Teaching methods
Teacher-centred lectures, with interactive slides; excercises of quantitative ecology. It is strongly recommended that the student follows all the lectures.
Teaching Resources
Slides shown during the course, available on the ARIEL website
Smith TM, Smith RL. Elementi di Ecologia. Pearson Editore
Begon ML, Harper JL, Townsend CR. Ecologia: individui, popolazioni, comunità. Zanichelli Editore
Gilbert S, Epel D. Eco-Devo: Ambiente e biologia dello sviluppo. Piccin
Cain ML, Bowman WD, Hacker SD. Ecologia. Piccin



Gilbert S, Epel D. Eco-Devo: Ambiente e biologia dello sviluppo. Piccin
Chelazzi G, Santini G, Provini A. Ecologia: dagli organismi agli ecosistemi. Editrice Ambrosiana
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination will take place in written form. It will consist of 3 open questions on the topics presented during the course, and 2 quantitative ecology exercises. The text will be evaluated based on acquired skills and on clarity of writing. There will be no intermediate tests.
BIO/07 - ECOLOGY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 64 hours
Professor: Rubolini Diego