Plant ecology

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide specific knowledge about plant ecology at species and community level, with particular reference to the responses of plants to environmental factors and to plant life strategies. Knowledge about phytosociology and its application to habitat management will be also provided.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge of the main plant strategies and functional types. Interpretation of vegetation cover as a function of environmental and human factors. Vegetation sampling and analysis.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
If the sanitary emergency will continue, lessons will be given in synchronous modality on ms Teams. Virtual excursions in representative areas of Italy (Alps, Prealps, Mediterranean) will be provided on Ariel website in replacement of real field classes
In this case, the exams will be given on msTeams, with the same procedure and assessment criteria given for the ordinary procedures
Course syllabus
Plant ecology and its role within Plant Science; different approaches to the study of the ecology of plants.
Factors conditioning plant growth. Climate: element and parameters; climatic regimes. Climatic indices and phytoclimatic classifications. Soil: soil evolution processes: humus; soil and vegetation evolution. Plant-soil relationships, nutrient needs of plants.
Perturbations: fire, biotic disturbance, mechanical disturbance; responses at individual and community level.
Autoecology: the structure of plants; individuality, modularity and clonality. Life forms; tree growth forms, tree architecture; herbaceous growth forms. Adaptive strategies and functional types: different models of classification of plant strategies. 2- and 3-strategies models. Grime's CSR model: theory and application. Stress and disturbance. Leaf economic spectrum. Ecological profile of plant species (Ellenberg's and Landolt's indices) and ecological spectrum. Phenotypic plasticity.
Synecology (community ecology): coexistence, Interactions: pollination and symbiosis ecology. Vegetation dynamics: primary and secondary successions; the climax concept.
Basic concepts of phytosociology and syntaxonomy The main Syntaxonomic units of Italian vegetation
Relevant topics in plant ecology: alien species invasion, climate change, flora and vegetation conservation
and their applications to habitat management following European Directives.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of the basic concepts of Ecology and Botany
Teaching methods
Classroom lessons. Optional field excursions are also proposed
Teaching Resources
Course slides are available on the ariel website. General textbooks and specific literature about each subject will be also suggested throughout the course and will be available on the ariel website.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of an oral discussion of a scientific paper chosen by the student and presented through a power point presentation, followed by few questions about the topics discussed during the course. Assessment criteria are based on presentation quality and content understanding, knowledge of the main concepts given during the course. The grades are on a scale of 30
BIO/02 - SYSTEMATIC BOTANY - University credits: 6
Lectures: 48 hours