Communities and ecosystems

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide concepts on the organization and functioning of communities and ecosystems, with particular focus on aquatic environments, exploring the interactions between organisms and their environment. Particular attention will be given to the understanding of how environmental modifications, in particular anthropic pressure, can alter the composition and the functionality of ecosystems, integrating the processes that occur at different levels of biological organization, with a perspective of management and conservation of natural resources.
Expected learning outcomes
The course offers the following specific training objectives:
· Understand the role of the main plant and animal groups in natural systems and how they interact with the physical and chemical environment;
· Be able to assess the consequences of main threats to ecosystems, such as pollution, introduction of alien species and climate change;
· Acquire the knowledge for a critical evaluation of the available methodologies for the monitoring of the status of the ecosystems, for the management of natural resources and the recovery of contaminated environments.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the publich health situation
Course syllabus
Biodiversity: definitions, structural and functional biodiversity. Factors that influence biodiversity. Biological interactions and community ecology. Trophic food webs. General concepts on the functional organization of freshwater ecosystems, systematic, ecological and biological aspects. Description of some extreme ecosystems. Pressures and alterations of natural environments: introduction of alien species, climate change and pollution. Analysis for the evaluation of the functionality and quality of ecosystems, with particular reference to current European regulations.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of zoology, botany and ecology are recommended.
Teaching methods
Lectures supported by powerpoint presentations. The student will be involved in actively participating in the discussion, to improve their critical skills, reworking the acquired concepts and communicating them appropriately. Specific topics will be deepened through tematic seminars performed in collaboration with scientists expert in the field. A field activity will be also carried out aimed at deepening some topics covered in the course.
Attendance is strongly recommended
Teaching Resources
Scientific articles provided by the teacher
Fenoglio et al. Ecologia Fluviale. UTET Eds.
Clements WH, Newman MC. Community Ecotoxicology. Wiley & Sons Eds
Assessment methods and Criteria
The assessment of student preparation consists of an oral examination, which will focus on topics discussed during lessons. The examination aims to verify the knowledges acquired by students, the capability to communicate concepts adequately and the propensity to deepen the topics. The students will be invited to carry out an optional seminar on topic chosen among the themes of the teaching. The seminar will be evaluated and contributes to the final evaluation.
BIO/07 - ECOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Educational website(s)