cod. 1001339

Academic year 2018/19
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Ecologia (BIO/07)
Discipline del settore biodiversità e ambiente
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course goal is to teach the basics of Population Biology that is he synthesis of Population Ecology and Population Genetics.

The treatment of the subject matter aims at giving students the necessary quantitative tools.
The course aspires to go beyond description of phenomena to try reaching problem solving tools.


The course is intended for Master students and assumes students have a basic knowledge of the disciplines that are the basis of Population Biology (Ecology and Population Genetics and Ecology).Population biology uses techniques coming from mathematics, statistics, genomics and biological systematics

Course unit content

Population biologists study changes in allelic frequencies (evolution) within populations of the same species (population genetics) and interaction among populations of different species (ecology).Special attention will be devoted to two cross-cutting issues:-conservation and-global changesDifficulty level of mathematical demonstration will be kept at minimum by using intuitive reasoning.Computer simlations will be oftern used as a teaching tool.Please look at Extended Content for a more detailed program

Full programme

1 Nature Conservation
1.1 Are species useful?
1.2 Reasons for nature conservation
1.3 Main causes of extinctions

2 Habitat fragmentation
2.1 Effects of population ecology
2.2 Effects of fragmentation per sé
3 Metapopulations
3.0.1 The Levin’s model
3.0.2 The Island-Mainland model
3.0.3 The Hanski Model
3.0.4 Model with habitat distruction
3.0.5 Real examples of metapopulations

4 Evolution in populations
4.1 How to measure genetic variability
4.1.1 Microsatellite
4.1.2 SNP - Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
4.2 Allelic and genotypic frequencies
4.3 Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium
4.4 Indexes of genetic variability
4.4.1 Deviation from HW- equilibrium
4.5 Simulations to study the effect of reducing the size of isolated populations
4.6 Effects of genetic drift
4.7 Effects of habitat fragmentation on genetics of populations
4.8 Inbreeding and inbreeding depression
4.9 Effective population size
4.10 Gene flow
4.10.1 Methods to study gene flow
4.10.2 Paternity Analysis
4.10.3 Parentage Analysis
4.10.4 An example of genetic effects of fragmentation
4.11 Natural Selection

5 Evolution of quantitative traits
5.1 Importance of genetic variability in Ecology
5.1.1 Types of environmental adaptation
5.2 How quantitative traits are studied
5.3 Variance components and heritability
5.3.1 Estimation of heritability
5.4 QTL mapping
5.4.1 Hints for Interval Mapping

6.1 Definition and importance of dispersion
6.1.1 Different dispersal capabilities
6.1.2 Dispersal kernels
6.1.3 Long Distance Dispersal events
6.2 Dispersal and areal dynamics in changing climates
6.2.1 Models to predict contemporary ranges
6.2.2 Models to predict future range shifts due to climate changes


-Appunti di Biologia di Popolazioni
Dispense del docente- Autore: Stefano Leonardi – Disponibili su elly. Anno: 2018 – 118 pagine-Biologia della Conservazione by Richard Primack and Luigi Boitani Publisher: Zanichelli Year: 2013 ISBN-13:978-8808171146

- Fondamenti di Genetica della Conservazione di Richard Frankham, Jonathan D. Ballou, David A. Briscoe Publisher: Zanichelli Year: 2006 Language: Italian ISBN-13:978-8808170187

Population Biology: Concepts and Models di Alan Hastings Publisher: Springer-Verlag; 1997. Second edition Language: English ISBN-13: 978-0387948539

Teaching methods

Lectures will be the most important teaching mean. Computer simulation will be often used. Supplementary material to dig deeper in some topics and scientific papers from recent literature will be given in english language.

Assessment methods and criteria

Final exam is oral. The possibility of an intermediate written exam will be discussed with students.The initial topic of the oral exam will be chosen by each student and it will deal with the above mentioned supplementary teaching material (scientific papers).

The different ways learning is ascertained will make easier to evaluate how far a student's learning objectives have been reached.

Answers to questions can give a good idea of the level of knowledge and understanding reached.

Exercises will allow to evaluate the student ability of applying knowledge and understanding.

In some question students will be questioned about their personal opinions on theory, ideas of models and this will reveal the level of capacity to make judgments .
Obviously answers to question will reveal communication skills. The oral form is particularly valuable for a Master graduate

Finally the complex of the learning experience might be of help in making the student aware of how his experience as a student will lead him to acquire learning skills.

Other information

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