88270 - BIOGEOGRAPHY AND MACROECOLOGY

Course Unit Page

SDGs

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

Climate Action Oceans Life on land

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will have acquired knowledge on the development and distribution of the diversity of life on Earth, with a special emphasis on plants. They will learn about the spatial scaling of biodiversity, the role of biogeography, and the different levels of assembly organisation, from the local to the global scales. Students shall become acquainted with methods for the measurement of biodiversity and its partitioning across scales, as well as the role of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning and stability and relations between biodiversity and climate. Students will also learn about the use of biogeographical and macroecological theories and methods to understand the present strategies for biodiversity conservation. They will gain the capacity to investigate natural systems by means of data collection and analyses and preparation of a written report.

Course contents

  1. Introduction and historical overview

  2. Patterns of species distribution and range size

  3. Historical biogeography

  4. Ecological biogeography

  5. Spatial patterns of biodiversity in relation to latitude, climate and area

  6. Relation between energy, productivity and biodiversity

  7. Taxonomic and functional measures of biodiversity

  8. Data sources in biogeography and macroecology

  9. Partitioning of biodiversity in space and time

  10. Island biogeography

  11. Human impacts on biomes and ecosystems

  12. Conservation biogeography

  13. Presentation and organisation of group work

  14. Discussion of group work

Readings/Bibliography

Gaston Kevin, Blackburn Tim, 2008. Pattern and Process in Macroecology. John Wiley & Sons.

Hugget Richard (2004) Fundamentals of Biogeography. Taylor & Francis.

Smith Felisa A., Gittleman JohnL., Brown James H. (2014) Foundations of Macroecology: Classic Papers with Commentaries. University of Chicago Press.

Various papers provided by the teacher.

 

Teaching methods

The course is organised into 12 class lectures given by the teacher with open discussion, 4 lectures based on assigned group discussion on selected topics, field excursions for observing patterns in nature and collecting data, practical analyses for analysing example data set of biogeographical and macroecological patterns.

Assessment methods

Type of assessment: Written test at the first examination call and interview for all the subsequent examination calls.

Type of questions: open questions.

Description of evaluation: The written test and the interview aims to verify the acquisition by the students the fundamental theoretical knowledge on the topics discussed during the course and her/his capacity to use these knowledge to understand the major biogeographical and macroecological patterns as well as to apply this knowledge to some problems such as conservation planning. Particular attention will be given to the capacity of the student to use a hypothetico-deductive method of conducting science-based reasoning.

Teaching tools

Lecture presentations, textbbook, scientific papers, biogeographical and macroecological data sets, reports of group work.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Chiarucci