76285 - Ecology for Cultural Heritage

Course Unit Page


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

Affordable and clean energy Climate Action Oceans Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

An overview of ecological principles, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem processes, goods and services provided by ecosystems to humans is provided. Connections between natural and cultural assets are stressed. The relationships between ecosystem structure and processes are analysed in a context of conservation and restoration of cultural and natural heritage. Case studies referring to ecological factors affecting the degradation of cultural and natural heritage in the framework of global environmental changes are analysed. At the end of the course the student will have the skills needed to assess the sustainable use of the cultural and natural heritage

Course contents

The course deals with various ecological issues that aim to underline the close link between natural and cultural heritage. For each macro theme, one or more case studies will be proposed.

The course is structured as follows:

1) Introduction: the cultural roots of ecology, the purpose of ecology, levels of ecological organisation, time and space scales, objectives and methods of ecology

2) The ecosystem, structure and processes: the concept of ecosystem, structure and functioning of an ecosystem, the abiotic components of the ecosystem, biodiversity and functioning, ecosystem goods and services. Case studies: bioerosion and bioconstruction in the Submerged Archaeological Park of Baia (Naples), the study of bioconstruction and erosion processes using computed tomography

3) Introduction to conservation biology: the concept of natural and cultural good, the importance of conservation, identification and estimation of the value of ecosystem services. Case study: focus on cultural services

4) The cycle of matter in ecosystems: biogeochemical cycles (definition and general characteristics), the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorus cycle, the sulfur cycle. Case studies: eutrophication and impact on cultural heritage

5) The interaction between organisms and the environment: the ecological niche, the disturbance types and theory. Case study: vulnerability of environmental and cultural heritage to erosion

6) Biological interactions: mutualism and symbiosis, commensalism, competition and predation. Case study: competition for space

7) Threats and tools for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage: degradation and conservation of habitats, chemical and physical impacts of human activities, the impact of global climate change on natural and cultural heritage.

8) Sustainability: definition and types, the objectives of sustainable development, World Heritage List. Case study: sustainable tourism of terrestrial and marine cultural and environmental heritage


Reference text:

Pusceddu A., Sarà G. e Viaroli P. (2020), Ecologia, ed. UTET Università, Italia, p. 362

Other relevant bibliographic reports will be provided during the lessons together with a copy of the presentations.

The course program is the same for both attending and non-attending students. Attendance of the lessons is recommended, however, students who cannot attend are invited to contact the professor for the suggestion of supplementary texts.

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures and discussion groups related to the topics of the program. During the course, computer presentations are used.

Assessment methods

Verification of learning consists of an oral test on the topics indicated in the course program.

To pass the exam, the student must prove that he/she has acquired adequate knowledge of the various topics scheduled and that he/she has mastered the scientific and methodological tools specific to the discipline. For the final grade of the test, it will be evaluated:

• the degree of scientific and methodological study of the topics covered
• the ability to sustain a critical and reasoned analysis on the topics
• the ability to make interdisciplinary connections
• the property of scientific language

In detail, the final evaluation will follow the following indications:
- insufficient grade: lack of basic knowledge and inability to produce a correct interpretation of ecological concepts.
- sufficient grade: possession of basic knowledge; mainly correct interpretation, but conducted with imprecision and little autonomy.
- good grade: possession of intermediate-level knowledge; fully correct interpretation, but not always precise and autonomous.
- excellent grade: possession of high-level knowledge; interpretation of problems not only correct but conducted with autonomy and precision. Excellent oral expression skills.


Students will also be able to discuss one of the scientific articles relating to the case studies provided as teaching material during the examination.

Before the oral exam, there will be a self-assessment multiple-choice questions test. Failure to pass the test does not preclude access to the oral exam.

The dates of the appeals will be published on the Almaesami website. Students can book exam exams only using the methods provided by the Alma Esami online system (https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm).

Teaching tools

Powerpoint or PDF presentations, scientific articles, chapters of the reference textbook indicated.
Teaching material available on the university's e-learning platform.

Office hours

See the website of Eva Turicchia