VERTEBRATE ZOOLOGY AND NATURE CONSERVATION
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The students will gain knowledge about the morphological, adaptive, and evolutionary characteristics of vertebrate biology, as well as the ability of understanding and evaluating the patterns of survival threatened populations. The student also will acquire communication skill about those topic divulgation.
Basic knowledge in general zoology and invertebrate zoology.
Course contents summary
The course aims at leading the students to understand vertebrate evolution since from their appearance on Earth, also giving them the tools to understand and develop actions for vertebrate fauna protection and its conservation
VERTEBRATES AS CHORDATES (cfu 0.5)
General characteristics of Chordates. Basic characteristics of Urochordates, Cephalochordates and the origin of Vertebrates. Adaptive aspects of the basic organic systems of Vertebrates.
AQUATIC VERTEBRATES (cfu 1.5)
Origin, usage and evolution of bone tissue in early Vertebrates. Early and living jawless vertebrates (Agnatha). Early jawed vertebrates (Gnathostomes). The rise and evolution of Chondroichthyes. Origin and evolution of Osteichthyes and specialisations of Teleostean fishes.
TERRESTRIAL VERTEBRATES (cfu 2.0)
Origin of Tetrapods: environmental constraints and preadaptations to life out of water. The Amphibians. Rise of the amniotic egg. Adaptive advantages of amniotic Vertebrates and their evolutionary lineages. An outline of the amniotic fauna of Mesozoic.
ENDOTHERM VERTEBRATES (cfu 1.0)
The plumage rise, characteristics of flight and adaptive aspects of Birds. The Synapsida and the rise of Mammals. Mammal evolutionary lineages and their relationship with reproduction type.
CONSERVATION OF VERTEBRATES (cfu 1.0)
Mass extinctions and Man-caused extinctions. Genetic and adaptive causes for vulnerability to extinction. Interventions to protect endangered species: protection in the wild and in captivity. Measures for introduction and for re-introduction: the rehabilitation process. The phenomenon of inurbation.
Pough F.H., Janis C.M., Heiser J.B., Zoologia dei Vertebrati. Pearson Italia, Milano - Torino, 2014.
Primack R.B., Boitani L., Biologia della conservazione. Zanichelli, Bologna, 2013.
Benton M.J., Paleontologia dei Vertebrati. Lucisano, Milano, 2000.
Franckham R., Ballou J., Briscoe D.A., Fondamenti di genetica della conservazione. Zanichelli, Bologna, 2006.
Hickman C.P. Jr., Roberts L.S., Keen S.L., Eisenhour D.J., Larson A., l'Anson H., Diversità animale (15a ed.). McGraw-Hill Italia, Milano, 2012.
Maddison D.R. (a cura di), The Tree of Life Web Project. University of Arizona [website]
Westheide W., Rieger R., Zoologia sistematica. Filogenesi e diversità degli animali. Zanichelli, Bologna, 2011.
The course will describe the evolution of Vertebrates from their appearance on Earth, with an outline to present problems about their conservation. Basically, it will examine the natural history and morpho-physiological characteristics of each major group, i.e. their general adaptations and their transformation in relation to environmental modifications, other creatures, and the interference caused by human activity.
Assessment methods and criteria
The examination will be both written and oral and the student is evaluated on the basis of comprehension of concepts discussed during the lectures, even in relation to previous zoological knowledge. The sufficient level will be ascertained during both the written and oral parts of examination, on the basis of response correctness, concept precision, ability to explain the concept.