88397 - Genetic and Biological Conservation

Course Unit Page


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

Sustainable cities Climate Action Oceans Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has the knowledge related to the description and study of biodiversity in a marine environment with particular attention to the Mediterranean basin. The student acquires knowledge on the principles of conservation biology and genetics, on threats to marine biodiversity (loss and fragmentation of habitats, over-exploitation of resources, marine invasions, climate change) and ecological approaches to conserve it (conservation in situ, ex situ, restoration and Citizen science). Thanks also to the use of genetic-molecular techniques, it will be able to - assess the effects that climate change and anthropic impacts have on the structure and dynamics of populations - estimate the resilience capacity of organisms - implement programs for the prevention and control of spread of invasive species. Furthermore, he will have acquired methodological skills (experimental designs, spatial scales), ecological (biological and ecological characteristics of the species) and analysis of genetic data (molecular markers, software and dedicated programs) to set up species management and conservation plans. At the end of the course, the student has the knowledge to design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to protect the marine environment.

Course contents

Fundamentals of biological and genetic conservation: history, definition, principles, 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.
Importance of connectivity in the marine environment.
Population variability and genetic structuring.
Inbreeding depression.
Extinctions (types and causes). Threatened and endangered species.
Threats to marine biodiversity (fragmentation and loss of habitats, climate change, overexploitation of resources).
Introduced species and invasive species.
Marine environment conservation measures (monitoring, planning and management of marine protected areas), in-situ conservation of populations and species (management plan design), ex-situ conservation of populations and species, participatory science (citizen science).
Conservation genomics.


Scientific articles in English provided to students and illustrated during lectures.
The use of material distributed by the lecturer and made available online together with lecture notes will be fundamental.

For further details, these books are recommended. They are available in the library of Environmental Sciences:

Essentials of conservation biology - 2013 - Richard B Primack, Sinauer

A primer of conservation genetics - 2004 - Richard Frankham, Jonathan D. Ballou, David A. Briscoe, Cambridge University press

An Introduction to Conservation Biology - 2016 - Richard B Primack, Anna A Scher - Sinauer

Teaching methods

The course is divided into lectures, exercises in the computer lab and group activities in the classroom. Lectures and discussion of scientific articles taken from international journals. Oral presentation, in the classroom, of a scientific article with the help of a PowerPoint presentation (group of 2-3 students). Computer lab activities for setting experimental design for statistical analysis of genetics and genomics data (eg population genetics, metabarcoding, RAD sequencing).

Assessment methods

Course assessment will take place through 1) discussion of a scientific article in the class and 2) written test which will include both closed and open questions. Furthermore, for the definition of the final grade, the activities carried out during the course will be taken into consideration: interest, choice and discussion of the scientific article, exercises in the computer lab, "scientific" language used, and also bearing in mind the conceptual difficulty of the individual questions .

Teaching tools

The teaching material will be available in the virtual space Teachings OnLine (https://iol.unibo.it).

Office hours

See the website of Federica Costantini