cod. 18885

Academic year 2016/17
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Ecologia (BIO/07)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
42 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit
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Learning objectives

The course is offered to students of the 1st year of the Master Degree that are able to deal with a mature and responsible approach the assessment and management of environmental issues that have significant implications for human society and human activities. Four main educational objectives are proposed.
1) Identify a problem related to environmental contamination by identifying the relevant aspects on which working hypotheses should be formulated.
2) Design the monitoring plan by identifying the methods of sampling, analytical techniques, processing and representation of data that best answer the questions and working hypotheses
3) Produce a report divided into three main parts: 1) an analytical section including a literature review, materials and methods, presentation of results, comments and answers to the initial questions, 2) a non-technical summary for non-specialists, 3) An english summary
4) To present and discuss the results to the public with multimedia support
Objectives 1), 2) and 3) are aimed at the application of knowledge gained in a professional context, within which it is required the ability to use the data to identify and analyze problems, knowing how to propose possible solutions
Objective 4) and partly also the objective 3) are aimed at developing both written and oral communication skills, with the help of the latest multimedia tools.


Basic knowledge of ecology, zoology, botany and chemistry. Basic knowledge of word processing, data management and multimedia

Course unit content

The course is divided into modules which consist of lectures, experiences in the field and in the laboratory, analysis, elaboration and discussion of the results. The modules include: 1) The planning of environmental monitoring with particular reference to the sampling design with respect to the environmental problem and to the objectives of the research activity; 2) monitoring of micro and macro-pollutants in various environmental matrices (surface water and groundwater, sediment, soil and biomass); 3) the application of official indexes and indicators within the current environmental legislation; 4) assessment of environmental pressures by means of mass balances and simple biogeochemical models.
As a reference system will be used the catchment area of the river Mincio, which includes protected areas with a high degree of naturalness as the northern segments of the river, the Mincio Valleys and Bosco Fontana in a context of multiple pressures (agriculture and animal husbandry, large treatment plants, refineries and chemical industries). Such geographical area offers the possibility to analyze and study a series of case studies in which the production aspects are integrated with the preservation and environmental protection.

Full programme

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- Waiver of the teacher on the experimental design and the design of the sampling, analytical methods of water, sediments and soils; official biotic and abiotic indices and indicators in current use
- From Agenda 21 to Action 21 for the Mincio River basin
- Towards the Mincio River Contract
- Galassi, Ferrari, Viaroli. 2014. Introduction to Applied Ecology. CittàStudi Edizioni, Milan.
- Code for the Environment
- Scientific articles of the teacher

Teaching methods

1) Frontal lessons of the teacher introducing the general topics to be developed later on by the students (20%)
2) Meetings with stakeholders, companies, environmental agencies and public administrations, where the main needs, problems and potential conflicts will be analyzed and discussed. The meetings are coordinated by the teacher (20%).
3) Activity in the field, possibly followed by laboratory activities, to analyze point or diffuse pollution problems and environmental degradation over large surfaces, all coordinates by the teacher (40%)
4) Set the analysis of data and final reporting performed by the teacher (20% of the time)

Assessment methods and criteria

The student is prepared to deal with the analysis and solution of problems of pollution and environmental degradation due to human pressures of various kinds. At the end of the course, the student has acquired skills that enable him to critically analyze these problems. In particular, she/he is able to formulate a correct working hypothesis, to plan and execute the sampling of different environmental variables, to carry out both chemical and biological analyses, to identify indicators and to build simple indices. On this basis she/he is able to distinguish between natural and altered processes, to identify the main causal factors of alterations, to identify critical components of ecosystems and has the ability to propose possible solutions.
The level of students is evaluated in three phases
1) the student is asked to produce a report comprising: a detailed technical report, non-technical summary for non-specialists, a summary in English (30% of final evaluation)
2) the student is asked to do an oral presentation of results with media (30% of final evaluation)
3) the student is asked to perform an in-depth discussion with the teacher and with the course colleagues (40% of final evaluation)

Other information

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