INLAND WATER ECOLOGY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
This course aims at enabling students to acquire a knowledge on ecological principles which serve as a basis for the understanding of functional aspects of aquatic systems and for their management.
Before attending this course, students must have completed basic ecology courses and possess an adequate background on relevant ecological theories and principles.
Course contents summary
The study of inland waters and the formulation of concepts and theories in ecology. Definition of wetlands. Environmental value and functions of wetlands. Features of the water molecule. Heat budgets of lakes. Temperature profiles in temperate lakes. Oligomixis, holomixis and meromixis. Light in lakes. Incident light penetration. Extinction coefficients. PAR. Measurement of light penetration. Dissolved oxygen. Oxygen concentration and saturation. Dissolved oxygen vertical distribution in lakes. Inorganic carbon. The carbonate/bicarbonate buffering system. Total alkalinity and ANC. The Redfield ratio. The role of phosphorus in aquatic systems. Nitrogen cycling in surface waters. Classification of the aquatic communities. Main types of freshwater phytoplankton. Factors affecting algal growth and seasonal succession. Physiological adaptations of phytoplankton to light. Stokes' law. Porter’s and Reynolds’ functional classifications. The paradox of plankton. The herbivorous zooplankton: micro- and macrofilter feeders. Predation of vertebrates and invertebrates upon zooplankton. Biotic interactions in the pelagic zone. Top-down and bottom-up control in lakes. Plankton vertical migration. Cyclomorphosis. Dormancy: quiescence and diapause. Strategies to avoid the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. Basic concepts of the Water Framework Directive. Lakes and trophic state. Point and non-point sources of pollution. Trophic state criteria and nutrient loading criteria. Carlson's Trophic State Index. Open and fixed boundary systems. OECD trophic classification methods. Vollenweider’s models. Use of bioindicators in lentic waters. Ecotechnologies for the recovery and restoration of aquatic ecosystems affected negatively by human activities. Macrophyte removal. Introduction of herbivorous fish. Liming of acidified lakes. River ecology. Structural and functional aspects of river ecosystems. Autotrophy and heterotrophy. Fate of the organic matter. Biological communities in running waters. The River Continuum Concept. The Flood-pulse Concept. Nutrient spiralling. Biological monitoring of streams and rivers. Index of river functionality. Ecology of interstitial waters and groundwaters. The biodiversity of inland waters. Biological invasions.
Reading materials (e-books and scientific papers) will be available from the teacher’s website.
Other suggested readings:
Bettinetti R., G. Crosa, S. Galassi. 2007. Ecologia delle acque interne. Edizioni CittàStudi.
Brönmark C., L.-A. Hansson. 1999. The biology of lakes and ponds. Oxford University Press.
Closs G., B. Downes, A. Boulton. 2004. Freshwater ecology. A scientific introduction. Blackwell Publishing.
Dodds W.K. 2002. Freshwater ecology. Concepts and environmental applications. Academic Press.
Dodson S.I. 2005. Introduction to limnology. McGraw-Hill.
Giller P.S., B. Malmqvist. 1999. The biology of streams and rivers. Oxford University Press.
Lampert W., U. Sommer. 1997. Limnoecology: the ecology of lakes and streams. Oxford University Press.
Wetzel R.G. 2001. Limnology: lake and river ecosystems. 3rd edition. Academic Press.