54950 - Vegetation Ecology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student owns a knowledge on: the fundamental issues in plant community ecology (vegetation science); the structural and functional role of vegetation in terrestrial ecosystems; the factors that affect the species composition and diversity of plant communities; the methods applied for investigating the community composition and diversity; the issues related to the management and conservation of vegetation and plant diversity in natural and semi-natural habitats. On the basis of this knowledge, the student can use integrated methodologies to deal with problems of assessment, monitoring and management of vegetation and to apply them for research purpouses as well as for land management and nature conservation.

Course contents

History of vegetation science. Plant community and vegetation concepts. Fundamentals of population and community ecology in plants. Physiognomic, floristic and functional classification of vegetation. Relations and interactions between plant communities and environmental factors. Species interactions and assembly rules in the assemblage of plant communities. Structural and functional role of vegetation in terrestrial ecosystems. Interactions between vegetation and other organisms. Diversity and functioning of vegetation. Plant functional types. Big data in vegetation science: floristic and functional type data bases. Management and conservation of vegetation. Vegetation and global changes. Simulation of a scientific study analysing the vegetation of a given area with production of a report.

Readings/Bibliography

Text book:

Martin Kent, 2011. Vegetation Description and Data Analysis: A Practical Approach. John Wiley & Sons. 432 pp.

Further readings:

Otto Wildi, 2011. Data Analysis in Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley & Sons. 234 pp.

Eddy van der Maarel, Janet Franklin. 2012. Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, 576 pp.

Teaching methods


Class lectures, preactical exercises, discussion groups, research approach simulation, field data collection, data analyses and report preparation.

Assessment methods


Written test with open questions for the first exam call, oral exam for the subsequent exam calls.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Chiarucci