Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

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Belonging course: 
Course of Master's Degree Programme on BIOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABILITY
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First Semester
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Course description

The course can be considered a completion of that of Ecology, with a view to the planned management of natural resources. In fact, on the one hand it tackles with greater depth some topics already treated in it, such as species diversity and population ecology, on the other it introduces new topics with logical-cognitive consequentiality, such as eco-ethics, eco-biogeography, human ecology and landscape ecology, ultimately dealing with the problems of organization and management of natural protected areas.


Knowledge of the topics covered in the Ecology basic course is absolutely necessary.


- Biological conservation: meaning, goals, “values” and leading principles.
- Elements of eco-ethics: anthropocentrism, biocentrism and ecocentrism; precautionary principle; "ecological crisis" and religion.
- Elements of ecological economics: market economy, externalities, “tragedy of the commons” and market failure; direct and indirect economic values; “sustainable development” concept and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
- Elements of human ecology: social and environmental problems related to the overgrowth of the human population and the overexploitation of natural resources; IPAT model, “ecological footprint”, lifestyles.
- Biodiversity: definition and levels; types (point-, alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-, epsilon-, omega-diversity); models on biodiversity and ecosystems functioning; factors affecting biodiversity; distribution of biodiversity on the planet and biodiversity "hotspots".
- Extinction: global and local; natural, mass and centinelian extinction; neo-extinction and its remote and proximate causes.
- Eco-biogeography: species number/area relationship and processes that regulate it; theory of island biogeography, archipelagos and "stepping stones".
- Fragmentation and destruction of habitats: causes and processes; “margin effect”; biological characteristics of species endangered by habitat fragmentation.
- The population: hemi-, pseudo- and meta-populations; "effective population”, "minimum viable population” and "minimum dynamic area"; “population viability analyses” and “extinction vortices”; meta-populations and "source-sink" dynamics.
- Elements of population genetics: loss of genetic variability and genetic and demographic fluctuations in small populations; "founder effect" and "bottleneck", genetic drift, neutral mutations, "inbreeding" and "outbreeding".
- IUCN classification of the risk categories of the species; criteria for assigning risk categories; the "threatened species"; types of "focal species"; treaties for the legal protection of species.
- Ex-situ conservation strategies: botanical gardens, zoo germplasm banks, aquariums, ichthyogenic centers.
- Natural protected areas: typologies and definitions; regulatory, managerial and naturalistic aspects; natural protected areas of Campania Region.

The course deals with the salient aspects concerning the meaning, purposes, and leading principles of nature conservation.
Elements of environmental ethics and anthropic ecology are also treated together with hints of ecological economics.
The central focus is on Biodiversity and therefore topics such as extinctions, eco-biogeography of species, habitat fragmentation with elements of Landscape Ecology are dealt with.
The main issues concerning the management of populations in general and of those at risk in particular are also dealt with, with elements of population genetics. Finally, the problems regarding natural protected areas are dealt with.

Teaching Methods

Lectures through Power Point slide shows, made available to students on the e-learning site.


- PRIMACK R. B., “Conservation Biology”

- GROOM M. J., MEFFE G. K., CARROLL C. R.: “Principles of Conservation Biology”

Learning assessment

The test consists of an oral interview in front of a commission composed of the teacher and at least one other member.

More information

Further teaching material is provided by the teacher or is available on the e-learning platform.