Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course is aimed at providing fundamental knowledge (basic and applied) relating to environmental issues arising from human-biosphere interaction, about air, water and soil matrices and agro-food production. At the end of the course, the student must be able to:
1) describe the main components of the biosphere and the fundamental ecosystem processes (KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
2) apply the knowledge of ecology to the understanding of ecosystem degradation processes, with special reference to the agro-food production (ABILITY TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
3) independently read in-depth essays and learn their scientific contents (ABILITY TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
4) expose in an exhaustively way, making use of an appropriate scientific language, the key concepts inherent to the biosphere and the processes that regulate ecosystems in its various biotic and abiotic components (COMMUNICATION SKILLS AND LEARNING SKILLS).
To address the topics of the Applied Ecology module, students should possess a basic knowledge of Biology.
Course contents summary
Introduction to the matrices of the biosphere: atmosphere, pedosphere, hydrosphere. Functioning and fundamental ecosystem processes. Biodiversity: concepts and indices. River systems, protection and use of water resources and ecosystems. Sustainability and case studies applied to agro-food production.
Module 1. Basic concepts of ecology and fundamental ecological processes across matrices of the biosphere (atmosphere, pedosphere, hydrosphere), levels of biological organization and ecological interactions.
Module 2. Biodiversity, introductory concepts; main threats to biological diversity, anthropogenic impacts and alien species, biodiversity indices (case studies relating to the Po valley and the role of agri-food activities in regulating the spatial patterns of biodiversity with particular reference to the wetland plants).
Module 3. Fundamentals of climate change; natural and anthropogenic components of the carbon cycle, carbon footprint of products and services, with particular reference to agro-food production.
Module 4. Sustainability and ecosystem services; basic concepts, local and global problems, sustainability metrics and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA, general concepts and main phases of life cycle assessment - and water footprint).
Module 5. Agricultural ecosystems and nature conservation; rural-urban-natural gradient, landscape fragmentation, effects of agro-food production on the physical and biological environment, the responses of organisms and biodiversity (introduction to assessment methods: NANI, NAPI, Soil System Budget of N and P) .
Module 6. Case studies: Oglio River, Mantua lakes and Mincio River, wetlands of the central Po valley and permanent meadows. Role of agro-food activities in regulating the quality of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, methods for assessing the quality of ecosystems, dynamic models and adaptative responses of plant species and habitats to changes.
S. Galassi, I. Ferrari, P. Viaroli - Introduzione all'Ecologia Applicata. Dalla teoria alla pratica della sostenibilità, Città Studi Edizioni, 2014
A. Provini, S. Galassi, R. Marchetti - Ecologia applicata, Città Studi, Milano, 1999.
Copy of the slides will be available for download on Elly platform.
The oral lessons will focus on the key issues of Applied Ecology with the support of slides (available weekly to the students on Elly website). Some of the lessons aimed at investigating the case studies applied to the world of agri-food production - will include the carrying out of seminars.
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam for the Applied Ecology module includes a written test consisting of two parts: a part with closed answers and a part with open answers. The part with closed answers will consist of 16 multiple choice quizzes, each with a maximum score of 1. The part with open answers will consist of two questions on the topics covered in the course. Each question will give a maximum score of 7. The rating scale is 0-30 cum laude. The laude is given to those who reach 30 as a final score and demonstrate in the open questions part deep knowledge and understanding of the subject and extreme clarity. During the exam, it will not be possible to use any kind of material (dictionaries, glossaries, manuals, element tables, calculators).
The mark of the written test is communicated within five days following the test, through publication on the Esse3 platform and will be followed by a correction in the presence that will be held on the occasion of the first available verbalizing session. The mark of the written exam relating to the Applied Ecology module will then be mediated with the mark obtained in the exam of the Biochemistry module to give the final mark recorded during a verbalizing session. The average will be weighted based on the CFU of each module (6 for Applied Ecology and 5 for Biochemistry. The following formula will be applied: final grade = Applied Ecology grade * 6/11 + Biochemistry grade * 5/11).
Students with SLD / BSE must first contact Le Eli-che: support for students with disabilities, D.S.A., B.E.S. (https://sea.unipr.it/it/servizi/le-eli-che-supporto-studenti-con-disabil...).
If due to the persistence of the health emergency due to Covid-19 it is necessary to adopt the remote mode for the exams, the written test will be conducted remotely (via Teams and Elly).
It should be remembered that passing the test relating to the Applied Ecology module is preparatory (and mandatory) for carrying out the Biochemistry test. However, it is also possible to take the two tests simultaneously (in the same session). The grade obtained by passing a module will be valid for 12 months. After 12 months from the passing of a module, if in the meantime the second module has not been passed, it will be necessary to take the exam again.