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ECOLOGY

Course info

  • Course: ECOLOGY
  • Year: First year
  • Semester: Second semester
  • Activity type: Core educational activities
  • CFU: 6
  • SSD: BIO/07

Characteristics

TitleCodeCFUSSDSubject areaLecture (Hours)Exercise (Hours)Lab (Hours)
Attività formative caratterizzantiB6BIO/07Discipline biotecnologiche con finalità specifiche: biologiche e industriali40N.D.12

Channels

1
ProfessorDepartment
SANDRA URBANELLI

Objectives

The course intends to provide: 1) ample knowledge about the general environmental processes and conditions that render survival possible, 2) an overview of the structure and functioning of ecological systems, and 3) of the interactions among the related components.

Textbooks

Thomas M. Smith – Robert Leo Smith. ELEMENTI DI ECOLOGIA Pearson Paravia Bruno Mondadori S.p.A
P. Colinvaux. ECOLOGIA. EdiSES
Campbell-Reece. 2009. Biologia: Vol. 1 “La chimica della vita e la cellula”- Pearson Paravia Bruno MONDADORI S.p.A.

Programme

Fundamental Topics of Biology

Introduction to the Science of Ecology
Ecology: definition, history, approaches and methods. The hierarchy of ecological systems. Emergent properties

Environment and organisms
The physical and chemical conditions and the resources of environment. Limiting factors: Liebig’s law of the minimum. Geographic distributions of organisms. Shelford’s law of tolerance. The climate. Autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms. Plant adaptations to the environment: C3, C4 and CAM photosynthetic pathways. Animal adaptations to the environment: acquiring of energy and nutrients; regulation of internal conditions: homeostasis and feedback. Endothermy and ectothermy

Ecosystem Ecology
Ecological systems. Abiotic and biotic systems. Laws of thermodynamics. Primary and secondary production. Ecological efficiency. Food chains: grazing food chain and detritus food chain. Ecological pyramids.
The Ecosystem. Quantification of energy flows in ecosystems. Recycling of nutrients within the ecosystem. The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest: effects of removal of vegetation on nutrient cycles. Decomposition processes. Methods of estimating productivity. Terrestrial ecosystems. Aquatic ecosystems. Biogeochemical cycles: carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles. Phosphorous and sulfur cycles. Ecosystems dynamics under changing climate.

Evolution and ecology
The Genetic basis of evolutionary change. The population as a unit of study. Diversity of genetic variation. The Hardy-Weinberg law. Measures of genetic variation. Inbreeding and assortative mating. Mechanisms of microevolution. Adaptation. The concept of fitness. Sexual selection.
Population ecology. Density and distribution. Population parameters. Demographic techniques: life tables, reproductive value, age structure. Population growth. Mathematical models: geometric and logistic growth. Regulation of population size.
Species and speciations. Species concepts. Reproductive isolating mechanisms. Modes of speciation.
Population interactions. Classification of interactions. Competition in experimental laboratory populations. Competition in natural population. Ecological niche. Evolution of competitive ability: r-selection and k-selection. Character displacement. Predation. Evolution of predator-prey systems. Disease and parasitism. Mutualism. Coevolution. Red Queen hypothesis.


Community ecology
Community structure. Ecological successions: primary and secondary. The climax state. Biodiversity. Food chains and trophic levels. Dominance. Keystone species. Community stability. Bottom-up, top-down and trophic cascade model. The disturbance in communities. Non-equilibrium model. Island biogeography theory.




The laboratory exercises cover the following topics:
1) Use of biochemical markers for the analysis of population genetic diversity and evaluation of reproductive isolation between sympatric taxa.
2) Analysis of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium.
3) Biotic interactions: intraspecific predation, cannibalism and analysis of its impact at the population level.
4) Organism-environment interaction: effects and responses of organisms to exposure to toxic substances.
2
ProfessorDepartment
DANIELE PORRETTA

Objectives

The course intends to provide: 1) ample knowledge about the general environmental processes and conditions that render survival possible, 2) an overview of the structure and functioning of ecological systems, and 3) of the interactions among the related components.

Textbooks

Thomas M. Smith – Robert Leo Smith. ELEMENTI DI ECOLOGIA Pearson Paravia Bruno Mondadori S.p.A
P. Colinvaux. ECOLOGIA. EdiSES
Campbell-Reece. 2009. Biologia: Vol. 1 “La chimica della vita e la cellula”- Pearson Paravia Bruno MONDADORI S.p.A.

Programme

Fundamental Topics of Biology

Introduction to the Science of Ecology
Ecology: definition, history, approaches and methods. The hierarchy of ecological systems. Emergent properties

Environment and organisms
The physical and chemical conditions and the resources of environment. Limiting factors: Liebig’s law of the minimum. Geographic distributions of organisms. Shelford’s law of tolerance. The climate. Autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms. Plant adaptations to the environment: C3, C4 and CAM photosynthetic pathways. Animal adaptations to the environment: acquiring of energy and nutrients; regulation of internal conditions: homeostasis and feedback. Endothermy and ectothermy

Ecosystem Ecology
Ecological systems. Abiotic and biotic systems. Laws of thermodynamics. Primary and secondary production. Ecological efficiency. Food chains: grazing food chain and detritus food chain. Ecological pyramids.
The Ecosystem. Quantification of energy flows in ecosystems. Recycling of nutrients within the ecosystem. The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest: effects of removal of vegetation on nutrient cycles. Decomposition processes. Methods of estimating productivity. Terrestrial ecosystems. Aquatic ecosystems. Biogeochemical cycles: carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles. Phosphorous and sulfur cycles. Ecosystems dynamics under changing climate.

Evolution and ecology
The Genetic basis of evolutionary change. The population as a unit of study. Diversity of genetic variation. The Hardy-Weinberg law. Measures of genetic variation. Inbreeding and assortative mating. Mechanisms of microevolution. Adaptation. The concept of fitness. Sexual selection.
Population ecology. Density and distribution. Population parameters. Demographic techniques: life tables, reproductive value, age structure. Population growth. Mathematical models: geometric and logistic growth. Regulation of population size.
Species and speciations. Species concepts. Reproductive isolating mechanisms. Modes of speciation.
Population interactions. Classification of interactions. Competition in experimental laboratory populations. Competition in natural population. Ecological niche. Evolution of competitive ability: r-selection and k-selection. Character displacement. Predation. Evolution of predator-prey systems. Disease and parasitism. Mutualism. Coevolution. Red Queen hypothesis.


Community ecology
Community structure. Ecological successions: primary and secondary. The climax state. Biodiversity. Food chains and trophic levels. Dominance. Keystone species. Community stability. Bottom-up, top-down and trophic cascade model. The disturbance in communities. Non-equilibrium model. Island biogeography theory.




The laboratory exercises cover the following topics:
1) Use of biochemical markers for the analysis of population genetic diversity and evaluation of reproductive isolation between sympatric taxa.
2) Analysis of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium.
3) Biotic interactions: intraspecific predation, cannibalism and analysis of its impact at the population level.
4) Organism-environment interaction: effects and responses of organisms to exposure to toxic substances.