This course aims at introducing students to the structural and functional characteristics of freshwater ecosystems. Special attention is paid to the relationships between abiotic and biotic factors to understand the ecological processes, functioning and baseline variability of freshwater ecosystems, and evaluate the effects of different types of disturbances in order to define conservation, mitigation and restoration programs.
At the end of the course students are able to work in the field and in chemical and biological laboratories, to identify representative sites, to correctly perform sampling acrtivities, to treat the collected samples, to apply different chemical and biological quality indices and to interpret them critically. The following major educational objectives are proposed:
- be able to assess the effects of different types of disturbances and to plan actions for conservation, mitigation and recovery of water resources;
- learn about techniques aimed at restoring the quality and functioning of aquatic ecosystems and the ecological evaluation of their effectiveness;
- aquire knowledge on EU and national regulations concerning the management of water resources;
- be able to define the reference conditions to establish restoration objectives for water resources;
- define a sampling design of different environmental matrices;
- assess the role of biodiversity in inland waters and recommend strategies for its conservation;
- learning to use field instruments for direct measurements in the environment, sampling and pre-treatment of samples;
- how to operate in a chemical laboratory being aware of safety regulations, management of chemicals, application of potentiometric, spectrophotometric and chromatography methods;
- autonomously calculate chemical and biological quality indexes from collected or literature data;
- critically interpret the results of an index.