88271 - MONITORING ECOSYSTEM CHANGES AND FUNCTIONING

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

This course mainly focuses on the evaluation and monitoring of ecosystem changes related to human impact and global change. Particular emphasis will be given to: 1) the ecological mechanisms driving the main ecosystem functions, including energy flow and chemical cycling; 2) the founding basics on species population- and community-levels in relation to ecosystem functions; 3) the main modelling techniques used to monitor spatial changes of ecological properties; 4) the use of remote sensing for evaluating ecosystem changes at wide spatial extents. The course includes practical analysis of spatial data making use of free and open source software (R, GRASS GIS). Students will finally be able to create their own project on monitoring of spatial and temporal changes of ecosystems at different spatial scales.

Course contents

- The ABC of monitoring ecosystems

- Monitoring populations and population change in time: introduction to population ecology

- Monitoring communities: introduction to community ecology and community monitoring metrics

- Ecosystems' structure and functions: exploring the main ecosystem functions

- Basics of Conservation Biology: understanding environmental issues and their potential solutions

- Global change and monitoring at wide spatial scales

- Scale issues when dealing with spatial data: main issues relted to hierarchy theory and impacts of scale in spatial analysis

- Spatial statistics: deriving continuous maps from in-situ data, principles of autocorrelation and spatial interpolation

- Multitemporal analysis: monitoring change in time

- Species distribution modelling: modelling the main drivers shaping species distributions

- Introduction to the R Software and the Free and Open Source philosophy: how to deal with R making your first code!

- Remote sensing: performing amazing spatio-temporal monitoring with satellite data at global scales

- Geographical data and reference systems: how to deal with the spatial reference of geographical data

- GRASS GIS: a Free and Open Source Sofware for spatial data handling and analysis

Readings/Bibliography

Campbell, N., Reece, J.B., Urry, L. (2014). Biology: A Global Approach, Global Edition, Pearson global edition.

Wegmann, M. (2016). Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists: Using Open Source Software. Pelagic Publishing.

Teaching methods

Lectures and practical exercises.

Assessment methods

R project by the students and oral presentation.

Teaching tools

Free and Open Source Software. Free geographic and remote sensing data.

Office hours

See the website of Duccio Rocchini