Complements of ecology

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
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

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 public health situation
Course syllabus
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.
Prerequisites for admission
To deal with the topics of the teaching, 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. 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: 6
Lessons: 48 hours