Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)
Basic knowledge of Ecology
The course is articulated in theoretical lectures integrated with the analysis of case studies and numerical exercises
The course provides the basic principles and the most recent approaches for managing complex and inter-disciplinary issues needed to answer environmental sustainability objectives.
Ability to apply the knowledge:
The student will acquire the following professional skills: ability to plan strategies for the management and conservation of environmental quality and its resources; propose actions and measures for the reduction and mitigation of human pressure on ecosystems.
The student will acquire skills useful for interfacing with agencies and institutional bodies involved in the management of the environment and its resources
Basic concepts and definitions: Environmental sustainability, ecological sustainability and sustainable development. Models of sustainable development. Indicators of human wellbeing. The concept of carrying capacity. Goods and services provided by ecosystems. Assessment of the value of the natural capital. The key ecological paradigms (resistance, resilience, emerging properties and ecosystem borders) for the eco-sustainable management of the environment.
Global change and global ecology: Human ecology. Human populations and urban growth. Analysis of the growing anthropogenic impact. Major causes responsible for the transformation and degradation of ecosystems and of the landscape: consequences on the provisioning of ecosystem's goods and services for human wellbeing. Climate changes, ecological feedbacks, adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Strategic approach to the use of the natural resources: analysis of multiple impacts in the multiple environmental dimensions. Driving forces, Pressures and Environmental health. Approaches for the sustainable management of the natural resources. Use of non-renewable resources. Strategies for the mitigation of the impact due to the excessive use of resources. Network analysis: comparison between natural and man-made systems. Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity. Emergy.
Environmental policy and quality of life: Impact of economical transformation and globalization on ecosystems. Cost-benefit analysis. Perspectives for the 2050. The problem of disparities. Competitions and conflicts. Ecological priorities and prognosis.
Case studies: Agriculture and sustainable yields. Sustainability of biofuels.
Sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture. The aesthetic and recreational value of the environment: the case of coral reefs. Biodiversity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the production of goods and services for humans. Criteria for sustainable management of forest resources.
Exercises: application of network analysis tools to natural and anthropogenic systems, examples of ecological footprint assessment.
Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The student will demonstrate his/her expertise by an oral examination on at least three questions.
Criteria for assessing learning outcomes:
Students must demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge on: the main models and indicators of sustainable development and environmental sustainability, indicators of human well-being, goods and services provided by ecosystems, the main causes of transformation and degradation of ecosystems, assessment of the economic value of the natural capital, the main approaches for the sustainable management of renewable resources, the strategies for reducing human impact due to the consumption of resources. The questions will allow assessing the student's ability to communicate clearly the information gained during the course.
Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:
The final vote is awarded out of thirty. The exam is passed when the vote is greater than or equal to 18. It is expected to attribute the highest score with honors (30 cum laude).
Criteria for conferring final mark:Being an integrated course the final vote is attributed jointly following the oral exam of the Environmental Sustainability module and the Energetic Resources and Alternative Energies module. Praise is given if the student demonstrates full mastery of the subject.
Lemons J., L. Westra & R. Goodland (1998) Ecological sustainability and integrity: concepts and approaches. Environmental Science and Technology Library, Kluwer academic Publishers.
Bologna G. (2005) Manuale della sostenibilità. Idee, concetti, nuove discipline capaci di futuro. Edizioni Ambiente S.r.L..
Southwick C.H. (1996) Global ecology in human perspective. Oxford University Press.
Chambers N., C. Simmons & M. Wackernagel (2000) Sharing nature’s interest. Ecological footprints as an indicator of sustainability. Earthscan, London and Sterlin, VA.
Wackernagel M. & W.E. Rees (2000) L’impronta ecologica: come ridurre l’impatto dell’uomo sulla terra. Edizione italiana a cura di Bologna G. & P. lombardi, Edizioni Ambiente S.r.L..