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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

Applied Ecology is a discipline that deals with the study of the management aspects of ecosystems, for the enhancement of ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of renewable resources.
The main objective of the course is to provide students with the basics for integrated study and critical understanding of the main functional aspects of ecology. Human activities are often the main constraint to the management. Their impact on the state of ecosystems and human health will be analysed at the local and global scale.
The student is guided along the path so that reaches the understanding of the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services, and the importance of proper management.

The student:
- knows the biogeochemistry which sets ecosystem productivity;
- know the different levels of ecosystem structure and main trophic relationships in some ecosystems used as case studies;
- knows the main critical elements in the conservation of biodiversity, in the maintenance of ecosystem services and the relative life standards for humans.


The student:
- knows how to properly use the terminology of biogeochemistry;
- knows how to approach ecosystem functional aspects in an integrated way;
- is able to identifying critical management points;
- It is able to use GIS for the integrated study and management of an ecosystem.


The Ecology Class is preparatory.

Course programme

Historical background and most important Directives for the protection of the environment and natural resources: the Directive 92/43 / CEE "Habitat" and the "Natura 2000 Network"; the Water Framework Directive, Directive 2000/60 / EC "Water Framework Directive", the D.Leg. 152/06, the Water Protection Plans (PTA); the surface water quality indexes (8 hours)

Basic elements of limnology; guiding parameters and relative measurement methods (4 hrs).

Eutrophication: process dynamics (2 hr), point and diffuse sources of nutrient loads - case studies (2 hr), eutrophication mitigation methods (4 hr)

Alien and invasive species: Alien fish species: the case of the Po River Basin (2 hours); the expansion of ungulates (4 hours).

Ecotoxicology: PFAS pollution, the problem of endocrine disruptors; risk analysis: the stages of risk assessment; the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure (8 hours).

Biological resources management: fisheries and aquaculture; the case of the Po Delta (6 hrs).

Agenda 2030, sustainability, calculation of water and carbon footprints, LCA (8 hrs).

Didactic methods

The course consists of a total of 48 hours of teaching (6 credits). The lessons are held weekly through the use of power-point slides and audiovisual materials. In the middle and end of the course, 2 + 2 hours will be devoted to the assessment, the revision of the topics and their discussion.
Students in other degree programs who have chosen Applied ecology, are suggested to follow the first lessons of the Ecology Class (9 CFU) of the Course in Biological Sciences.

Learning assessment procedures

The aim of the examination is to test the level of knowledge and depth of the topics of the course program and to assess the capacity for critical analysis developed in relation to the purpose of the biological waste treatment. In order to calibrate the lessons and the examination, mid-term tests will be carried out through classroom discussion.
The exam consists of a single proof that, chosen by the student, will be written or oral. The written test consists of 20 multiple choice questions (4 answers, only one of which is correct). Wrong answers are not counted. The estimated time for the test is 20 minutes. During the written exam is not allowed to consult texts or use PC, smart phone, etc. The final score is calculated according to the following criteria: 1,65 point for each multiple choice question. Sufficiency is reached with18/30.

Reference texts

Galassi S., I. Ferrari, P. Viaroli, 2014. Introduzione all'ecologia applicata. Dalla teoria alla pratica della sostenibilità. Città Studi Edizioni, De Agostini Scuola Spa, Novara, 270 pp.