Fundamental of ecology and forestry

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
AGR/05 BIO/07
Learning objectives
This course aims to provide students with knowledge and ability to understand the structure and functioning of ecological systems at various hierarchical levels, starting from populations and biological communities to ecosystems, with a special attention to anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems. Through the presentation of case studies, scientific literature, and discussions, the students will explore principles of basic and applied ecology that will be useful for future specialists in management and sustainable use of natural resources, especially forest resources.
This course aims to provide knowledge on managing forest stands, as a fundamental requirement for the future experts on land planning and management. The training objective of the course is to design and implement a planned and sustainable use of forests, within the framework of climate adaptation policies. Through the presentation of case studies, scientific literature, and discussions, students will explore the basis of forest ecology applied to silvicultural practices, with a special attention to multiple ecosystem services provided by the forest landscape.
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of the course, students will be able to know and understand the ecological processes useful to collaborate with specialists and technicians in forest management, and will develop useful competences for a sustainable environmental management.
The student will know:
· the ecological interactions among organisms and environment, and the evolutionary processes;
· the role of energy in determining ecosystem structure and functioning;
· biogeochemical cycles;
· factors influencing population growth;
· the role of biodiversity in favoring the ecosystem functioning and the main biodiversity sampling methods used in the ecological studies;
· how human activities affect natural resources.
Moreover, the students will learn about experimental methods in Ecology, and will acquire competences for biodiversity monitoring, and the application of ecological indices such as IBE. The students will be able to explore the scientific literature in the ecological field and communicate by using correct scientific terms.
Students will learn the main silvicultural systems that can be applied to different forest's type. Moreover, will be analysed the main provisions of the National and European forest legislation. In particular, students will be able to:
· understand the natural and managed forest dynamics;
· know the main forest tree species of the Italian peninsula;
· analyse a forest site by identifying the main structural characteristics of the forest, highlighting the ongoing ecological processes;
· define silvicultural treatments within the framework of sustainable forest management principles;
· analyse planning and regulatory framework in order to understand limits and opportunities in the management of a forest site.
Moreover, students will be able to explore scientific literature in the applied forest ecology field and to communicate by using correct scientific terms.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More information on the delivery modes of teaching activities for the academic year 2021/22 will be provided in the upcoming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of biology and mathematics.
Working knowledge of English (B2).
Assessment methods and Criteria
Module 1 - foundations of ecology: students' learning will be tested through a mixed-question written test on the main course contents (27 points max) and on lab activities (3 points max).
Module 2 - Forest management: Students will be assessed through an oral exam including questions on the course topics (max 18 points), a question on one forest species among 20 presented by the students in a herbarium (max 6 points), and a short discussion of a forest management project prepared by the student, to be handed in before the exam (max 6 points).
The modules can be taken independently of each other; the final grade is the arithmetic mean of the marks of the two modules.

The evaluation criteria for the training exercises and the written projects will be published on the MS Teams pages of the two modules. The evaluation criteria of the oral tests include: ability to present the knowledge acquired; ability to organize information; ability to describe and critically analyze forest systems; correct use of the scientific vocabulary.
Fundamentals of ecology
Course syllabus
Ecology and its applications. Scale concept and hierarchical levels. Physical environment and biosphere. Ecological models. Evolutionary / behavioural ecology. Population ecology: distribution, growth trends and dynamics. Community ecology: interactions among organisms, diversity and biogeography.
Ecosystems: production, energy fluxes, food webs, nutrients' availability and dynamics. Decomposition and nutrients' cycle: carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, phosphorous cycle, water cycle. Applied ecology, including on large scale: biodiversity conservation and environmental protection, landscape ecology and global ecology.
Deepened aspects: forest communities and spatial development. Anthropocene, ecological footprint and global limits (tipping points and Planetary Boundaries). Biodiversity and ecosystem services. Forests and global transformative pathways: mitigation and adaptation.
Practice; case study analysis.
Teaching methods
30 hours: in-presence lectures. 10 hours: labs and practice.
The lecturer will implement: (i) in-presence lecture sessions to stimulate the discussion with the students on the topics treated; (ii) field lessons to further develop the students' practical capacity; (iii) teaching labs to consolidate the learning; (iv) tests to verify the learning progresses.
Attendance is encouraged.
Teaching Resources
Cain, Bowman & Hacker (2017, versione italiana) Ecologia Piccin editore
Paci (2011) Ecologia forestale (3° edizione) Edagricole
Additional learning material will be provided by the lecturer.
Course syllabus
Introduction to the course. Definition of forest. Forests in the world, in Italy and Lombardy. Ecosystem services and sustainable forest management.
The tree and its organs. Forest population and community ecology.
Forest ecosystems: climate, growth factors, energy flows, biogeochemical cycles. Ecology of disturbances. Regeneration strategies. Forest restoration.

Describing forest stands. Elements of tree and forest measurement.
Management of coppices. Management of even-aged forests. Thinning. Management of uneven-aged forests.

Silviculture and climate change. Carbon sequestration in forestry. Forestry and adaptation to climate change.
Forest type classifications. Managment of the main forest types of Lombardy.

Forestry in direct protection forests.
Preventive silviculture for forest fires.
Forestry and biodiversity. Forestry in protected areas and Natura 2000 sites.
Urban forestry.

Two field trips and classroom exercises.
Teaching methods
24 hours: frontal lessons. 16 hours: field trips and classroom exercise.

Lecturer will use:
a) lectures, with the aim to provide students with the theoretical concepts ;
b) field and in-class activities to carry out field observations that can help students with professional practice;
c) quiz and excercises, with the aim to verify the acquired knowledge.

Attendance is strongly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Slides and course notes; study material provided by lecturer on MS Teams.

Recommended texts:
P. Piussi, G. Alberti (2015). "Selvicoltura generale. Boschi, società e tecniche colturali". Compagnia delle Foreste, Arezzo.
R. Del Favero (2002). "I tipi forestali della Lombardia". Cierre Edizioni Regione Lombardia, Milano.
IPLA (2004). "Alberi e arbusti. Guida alle specie spontanee del Piemonte". Blu Edizioni, Peveragno (free PDF available on the web)
Fundamentals of ecology
BIO/07 - ECOLOGY - University credits: 4
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Vizzarri Matteo
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Vacchiano Giorgio
Educational website(s)
prearrange by email
DISAA sez. Idraulica