cod. 00248

Academic year 2010/11
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Ecologia (BIO/07)
Discipline botaniche, zoologiche, ecologiche
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
course unit
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Learning objectives

The course is aimed at providing a basic theoretical background required for studying the mechanisms underlying ecological processes at different levels of complexity (organism, population, communities and ecosystem).


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Course unit content

What is ecology.
Definition of: biodiversity, species, fitness and ecotype
Natural selection.
Conditions and Resources
How the performance of a species is related to the intensity of an environmental conditions
Temperature and individuals: Q10 and the day-degree concepts.
Ectotherms and endotherms.
Radiation as a resource for green plants. Photosynthetic activity and water supply.
The nutritional content of plant and animals as food.
The C:N ratio in plants and animal tissues.
The ecological niche.
Patterns in community structure
Main terrestrial biomes and aquatic habitats.
Population ecology
Counting individuals. Life cycles. Cohort life tables. Reproductive rates, generation lengths and rate of increase. Population structure and sex ratio.
Migration and dispersal in space and time. Seed bank.
Intraspecific competition
The regulation of population size.
Mathematical models: exponential and logistic increase
Interspecific competition
The Lotka-Volterra model.
An outline of mutualism and parasitism.
Predation. The basic dynamics of predator prey, the Lotka-Volterra model. A simple model of harvesting: fixed quotas.
An outline of decomposers and detritivores.
Theories of species abundance.
Patterns of species richness.
Removal or introduction of key species
The number of trophic levels and food webs.
Complexity and stability. Resilience and resistance. Diversity indices
Ecological theories of island communities.
Ecological succession
Optimal foraging theory
The Flux of energy and matter through communities. Patterns in primary productivity. P:B ratio. Consumption, assimilation and production efficiency. Patterns of energy flow in terrestrial and aquatic communities. Biogeochemical cycles.
Global perturbation of biogeochemical cycles: pollution and global climate changes.

Full programme

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Townsend C.R., Harper J.L., Begon M. 2001. L'essenziale di ecologia. Zanichelli

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons

Assessment methods and criteria

Writing or oral examination

Other information

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