Academic Year 2022/2023

  • Docente: Massimo Ponti
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: BIO/07
  • Language: English
  • Moduli: Massimo Ponti (Modulo 1) Andrea Pasteris (Modulo 2) Federica Costantini (Modulo 3)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2) Traditional lectures (Modulo 3)
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Environmental Assessment and Management (cod. 5900)

Learning outcomes

Students will gain an overall understanding of the state of the coastal ecosystems, how they are affected bylocal and global anthropogenicdisturbancesand what are the ecological methods for their monitoring, management, and conservation. At the end of the course, students will know the main marine coastal ecosystems, their associated communities, and the functions of these systems. They will learn to implement bioassessment methods and the integrated approaches to monitor these ecosystems. Finally, they will gain knowledge on the principles of conservation biology, on threats to marine biodiversity, and the ecological approaches to conserve it.

Course contents

Module 1: Structure and process of coastal ecosystems (Prof. Massimo Ponti)

The lectures will cover a variety of coastal habitats (e.g., intertidal and subtidal rocky bottoms, estuaries and coastal lagoons, seagrass meadows, biogenic reefs, artificial habitats). For each habitat we be analysed:
  • environmental characteristics

  • main communities, their structure and distribution

  • main ecological processes and functioning, with emphasis on experimental work focusing on some particularly well studied processes


Module 2: Ecological methods for monitoring coastal ecosystems (Prof. Andrea Pasteris)

Environmental biomonitoring: definition, objectives, possible approaches.

Status of surface, transitional and coastal water according to the EU Water Framework Directive.

Chemical status and environmental quality standards.

Toxicity testing and toxicity values as tools for the setting of environmental quality standards.

Different approaches for the setting of environmental quality standards

Ecological status: biological, hydromorphological, physico-chemical quality elements.

The reference condition and the development of bioassessment methods: study cases.

Toxicity tests as tools for environmental biomonitoring.


Module 3: Biological conservation of coastal ecosystems (Prof. Federica Costantini)

Fundamentals of biological conservation: history, definition, principles and objectives. Conservation in the marine and terrestrial environment: similarities and differences.

The structural levels of biodiversity, from the molecular to the ecosystem and their conservation.

Threats to biodiversity (fragmentation and loss of habitats, climate change, over-exploitation of resources).

Introduced species and invasive species.

Extinctions (types and causes). Endangered species threatened with extinction.

Measures for the conservation of the marine environment (monitoring, design and management of marine protected areas), in-situ conservation of populations and species (design of management plans), ex-situ conservation of populations and species.

IUNC criteria for the definition of the risk status of a species, Red Lists as a Conservation Instrument, CITES and control of international trade in species. Main international conventions and bodies for the protection of the sea and marine organisms.


  • Bertness et al. (Editors) 2013 Marine Community Ecology and Conservation. Sinauer Associates Inc. 560 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1605352282

  • Introduction to conservation biology - 2016 - Richard B Primack; Anna Sher Sunderland, MA, U.S.A. : Sinauer Associates, Inc., Publishers,

  • A Primer of Conservation Genetics - 2004 - Frankham, R., Ballou, J., Briscoe, D., & McInnes, K.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511817359

Specifically selected scientific papers will be provided.

Teaching methods

Frontal teaching and interactive discussion groups.

Assessment methods

The exam includes a preliminary multiple choice test and then the discussion of a case study. The dates of the exams will be published on the almaesami website. Students can book for the exams exclusively using the methods provided by the online almaesami system.

Teaching tools

The teaching material (e.g., powerpoint presentations) will be made available on the e-learning platform of UNIBO.

Office hours

See the website of Massimo Ponti

See the website of Andrea Pasteris

See the website of Federica Costantini


Clean water and sanitation Climate Action Oceans

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.