Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 7
Hours 56
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code SM02 W000014


Knowledge of the main topics in Physics, General Chemistry. Inorganic and organic chemistry, biochemistry, Ecology, Zoology and Botany. Basic knowledge of marine biology.

Development of the course

Frontal lectures (6 credits ECTS, 40 hours), and 1 credit of laboratory practical exercises and field activities including practical courses visiting external laboratories. 

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide students with the advanced knowledge of the Marine Biology and ecology and of the marine ecosystems, and the ability of analyzing the relationships between structures and functions of marine ecosystems.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
The student should demonstrate their ability in linking different topics and in applying theoretical knowledge to case studies, judging independently, understanding processes of marine biology and ecology, and designing studies to understand the biodiversity and functioning of marine ecosystems, and the factors driving the patterns and functions of life at sea.


Content (lectures, 6 ECTS, 48 hours): The content of the course includes the study of the following topics: 
Interspecific interactions and trophic cascades, interspecific processes, predation, competition, facilitation and cooperation, symbiosis, parasitism, diseases of marine organisms, coral diseases, the overall interaction processes: networks and trophic cascades, food webs, food web of the debris, the circuit microbial (microbial loop), the viral circuit (viral shunt), bottom-up control of food webs, top-down control of food webs, mixed control "in the wasp waist", the key species (keystone), trophic cascades, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Coastal ecosystems: lagoons, ecology of coastal lagoons, ecology models and functioning of coastal lagoons, biodiversity of the lagoons, rocky intertidal, survival strategies in the intertidal environment, manufacturers primary of intertidal, zonation and competition, hard bottoms, consumers, niche dislocation to limit the effects of competition, predation on intertidal environment and the hypothesis of the intermediate disturbance, the key species, networks trophic, comparison of intertidal environments: hard bottoms vs soft bottoms, rocky subtidal, physical disturbance on benthic populations, biotic factors, the Mediterranean coral, underwater caves, cave biodiversity, adaptations in invertebrate life in the marine caves, food webs of the sea caves, forests of macro-algae, kelp forests, biodiversity associated with the kelp, food webs, forests of macroalgae in the Mediterranean, coastal ecosystems in comparison.
Ecosystems of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves, coral reefs (coral reef), zoning within a coral reef (coral reef), types of coral reefs, the theory of the formation of coral reefs, the building corals characteristics, reproduction corals, coral nutrition and symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, the main limiting factors for the growth of corals, coral reef biodiversity, the functioning of coral reefs and food webs, primary consumers, deposivori / detritivores, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers, the competition for the space on coral reefs, interactions between coral reefs with adjacent ecosystems, seagrass beds, biodiversity associated with seagrasses, operation, mangroves, biodiversity associated with mangroves, operation of mangrove ecosystems, coastal ecosystems temperate-warm in comparison.
Deep-sea ecosystems, biodiversity of deep environments The azo theory of Forbes for deep environments, the origin of deep fauna, mechanisms of generation and maintenance of deep biodiversity, metabolism and function of ecosystems deep, deep sea habitats, underwater canyons, biodiversity, operation, seamounts, biodiversity of seamounts, deep coral, abyssal plains, biodiversity and adaptations, dwarfism and gigantism of abysmal abyssal, oceanic trenches, hadal biodiversity, marine ecosystems deep compared.
Extreme ecosystems: chemosynthetic ecosystems, hydrothermal vents, biodiversity associated with hydrothermal vents, ecosystem functioning, cold seeps and biodiversity of symbiotic organisms, habitat made by carcasses of large cetaceans (whale carcasses), biodiversity, the functioning of a whale carcass systems, affinity of the vents and seeps communities, hypoxic and anoxic systems (dead zones), areas minimum oxygen (oxygen minimum zones, OMZ), anoxic basins, hypersaline anoxic systems, extreme chemosynthetic ecosystems in comparison.
Polar ecosystems: the Arctic ecosystem, biogeography and characteristics, biodiversity, biodiversity in the sea ice, pelagic biodiversity, fish, marine mammals, benthic biodiversity, trophic networks and functioning of Arctic ecosystems, Antarctica, zoning, extension and size, habitat Antarctic, biodiversity, birds and mammals, trophic and operating networks, polar ecosystems compared.

Practical courses, field and laboratory analyses (1 CFU, 8 hours / student): The practical course consists in field work, using the research vessel Actea of the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences and in the collection of plankton and benthos samples, in the analysis and sorting of benthonic and planktonic organisms, the identification of marine species, microscopic analyses. Depending on the research vessel availability also field activities are possible.

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The examination consists of written report on 3 questions, and each response is worth for up to 10 points, followed by oral discussion. The oral discussion can improve the test score for up to 6 points. The results of the written report remains valid for one year. More consecutive appeals can be tried and only the best score obtained is considered.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
In the oral discussion (which is possible after passing the test), the students must demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the marine biology and ecology, of the both biotic and abiotic compoennts and their interactions, as well as the ability to apply the knowledge gained.

Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:
The final mark is awarded out of thirty. The exam is passed when the grade is greater than or equal to 18. It is expected to be awarded the highest marks with honours (30 cum laude).

Criteria for conferring final mark:
The final mark is conferred on the basis of the oral test.

Recommended reading

Power Points of the Lectures
Lecture notes 
DANOVARO R., 2013. Biologia marina. Città Studi, De Agostini.

  • Biologia marina

Università Politecnica delle Marche
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