Learning outcomes of the course unit
This course provides students with a fundamental knowledge on problems related to the assessment and conservation of biodiversity. Emphasis will be placed on the effects of global processes and changes on biological diversity, with special attention to aquatic ecosystems.
Fundamentals on the classification of living organisms. Ecological theories about biological diversity.
Course contents summary
Definitions of biodiversity. Species, genetic, ecosystem, and cultural diversity. Methods of assessing and measuring biodiversity. Species diversity and evolution: paleontological evidences. Mass extinctions. Patterns of biodiversity across multiple scales. Biodiversity hotspots. The significance of biodiversity: direct uses, ecological functions, and intrinsic value. The economic value of biodiversity. The main threats for biodiversity. Biodiversity and sustainable development. Future scenarios related to global change effects, with special reference to aquatic ecosystems. Evolution and creationism. Case study on assessment of biodiversity in aquatic organisms through a through a multi-disciplinary approach.
Reading materials (mostly scientific papers) will be available from the teacher’s website.