APPLIED ECOLOGY 2
Learning outcomes of the course unit
This course is offered to students at the second level degree, who are expected to be able to address assessment and managemnt of complex environmental problems which are relevant for the humankind. Four main issues are addressed
1). Evaluation of the benefits which are provided by ecosystems to human wellbeing, having as a framework the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. In this context, the main eco system services are presented and discussed. The focus is mainly on eco system threats, conservation and restoration. Special attention will be dedicated to aquatic ecosystems and wetlands.
2) Quantitative study of biogeochemical processes which are key processes in determining ecosystem services
3) Analysis of local/regional case studies in order to assess the main eco system processes and services.
4) Presentation of the backgrounds of restoration ecology. Discussion of local/regional case studies dealing with ecosystem restoration.
Basic knowledge of ecology, biogeochemistry, hydrology, environmental economics
Course contents summary
The Millemnium Ecosystem Assessment as a frame work for analysing ecosystem structure and processes and related good and services. General overview of ecosystem processes, good and services. Analysis and management of altered ecosystem processes. Study cases of management of aquatic ecosystems and related ecosystem services. Conservation of pristine ecosystems and restoration of degraded ecosystems. Restoration ecology: backgrounds and main issues.
The Millemnium Ecosystem Assessment as a frame work for analysing ecosystem structure and processes and related good and services. The eco system as a functional unit. Why and how ecosystems are relevant for human health and wellbeing: ecosystem services. Conservation status of world ecosystems. Ecosystem status and changes: succession and shift. An example: wetlands and water resources
General overview of ecosystem processes, good and services. Changes and persistence of ecosystem processes. Resilience and stability; thresholds and shifts; sustainability. Water cycle and water supply. Primary productivity, decomposition and main pathways of carbon cycling. Carbon sinks and sources. Processes and pathways of nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and sulphur cycles and biogeochemical buffering capacity.
Altered processes and eco system management. Deforestation and land use changes. Imapcts of animal husbandry and agriculture. Perspectives and limits of biofuel crops. Acidification of aquatic ecosystems and regulation of CO2 processes. Eutrophication, hypoxia and anoxia in aquatic ecosystems. Nitrogen contamination.
Management of auqtic ecosystems and related services: study cases. Pressures, state, impacts and possible responses in the Po river watershed. Conflicting uses and sustainability of water resources in the river Mincio basin. Pressures, state, impacts and possible responses in the man managed lake Idro. Evaluation of alternative options for the management of a lake with touristic activities, fish angling and nature conservation zones (Lake Fimon). Aquaculture, water quality and ecosystem sustainability in the Sacca di Goro coastal lagoon.
Ecosystem conservation and restoration of altered ecosystems. Restoration ecology backgrounds and methods. Pit lake restoration in the Po river basin. Wetland restoration in the Mincio river floodplain. River and canal restoration as a tool for controllino nitrogen pollution and preservino biodiversità. Restoration of coastal lagoonsa and wetlands.
MILLENIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT (http://www.maweb.org/en/index.aspx)
Ecosystems and Human Well-being. Synthesis.
Ecosystems and Human Well-being: wetlands and water. Synthesis
Ecosystems and Human Well-being. A Framework for Assessment.
Teacher's notes on applied biogeochemistry
van Andel J., Aronson J., 2006. Restoration Ecology. The New Frontier. Blackwell Publishing, malden, MA, USA.
Provini A., Galassi S., Marchetti R., 1998. Ecologia Applicata. CittaStudi, Milano.
lectures with power point support
Assessment methods and criteria
the final evaluation will be based on
- the workshop outcomes
- the discussion of a scientific paper dealing with the main topics