Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course is aimed at providing a basic theoretical backgroundrequired for studying the mechanisms underlying ecological processes atdifferent levels of complexity (organism, population, communities andecosystem).
Course contents summary
What is ecology.
Definition of: biodiversity, species, fitness and ecotype
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.
Ectoterms 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.
Counting individuals. Life cycles. Cohort life tables. Reproductiverates, generation lengths and rate of increase. Population structureand sex ratio.
Migration and dispersal in space and time. Seed bank.
The regulation of population size.
Mathematical models: exponential and logistic increase
The Lotka-Volterra model.
An outline of mutualism and parasitism.
Predation. The basic dynamics of pradator 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.
Compexity and stability. Resilence and resistence. Diversity indeces
Ecological theories of island communities.
Optimal foraging theory
The Flux of energy and matter through communities. Patterns in primaryproductivity. P:B ratio. Consumption, assimilation and productionefficiency. Patterns of energy flow in terrestrial and aquaticcommunities. Biogeochemical cycles. I cicli biogeochimici. Cenni diecologia
Global perturbation of biogeochemical cycles: pollution and global climate changes.
Townsend C.R., Harper J.L., Begon M. 2001. L'essenziale di ecologia. Zanichelli.