Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Belonging course: 
Course of Bachelor's Degree Programme on BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
Hours of front activity: 



Course description

The course aims to guide the student in the context of the salient issues of ecology.
Basic knowledge is provided, which will allow the student to deal with any future insights on specific issues of ecology without particular difficulties.


Knowledge of the topics covered in the courses of Mathematics and Statistics, General and Inorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Plant Biology and Physiology, Animal Biology and Physiology is required.


General systems theory and hierarchical organization of living systems; cybernetic and thermodynamic characteristics of living systems; field of study of ecology, history of the discipline and main terminological definitions.
The population: inter-specific interactions; “ecological niche” and “habitat”; dispersion of individuals and populations; life cycles, histories and strategies of species; Demographic parameters and tables; size and age structures; growth curves of populations.
The community: history of the concept and holistic, individualist and continuist phy-tosociological schools - Community boundaries - Community structure and descriptive parameters – Rank/abundance models among species - Communities and disturbance: resistance, resilience; characters of disturbance - Ecological successions; climax theories; Holling's adaptive cycle.
Biomes: characteristics and climatic factors; latitudinal and altitudinal gradients; main Italian biomes.
The ecosystem: bio-geochemical cycles of matter; primary production and remineralization of nutrients – Grazing and detritus food chains – Food webs and ecosystem stability - Energy flow: ecological productivity and efficiencies; ecological pyramids -Differences between “mature” and “immature” ecosystems, between “terrestrial” and “aquatic” ecosystems.
The biosphere: composition and influence of the climate; astronomical and anthropogenic causes of climate change; hints of "historical ecology".
Sampling theory: choice of space-time scales and variables to study - Qualitative, quantitative and semi-quantitative sampling types - Sampling stations positioning: random, systematic, stratified, nested – Methods of capture-marking-release-recapture - Methods of visual census along transects.
Population data analysis: spatial dispersion of individuals, dispersion index and BQV and TTLQV methods. – Size and age population structure; cohort analysis and modal progression analysis to obtain growth curves of organisms.
Community data analysis: type, form and transformations of data- Similarity coefficients and matrix - Cluster analisys and ordination models

The course deals with the basic topics of ecology according to a systemic logic, starting from historical development up to the most current conceptual approaches.
Leitmotif are the structural and functional characteristics of living systems at a level of organization higher than that of organisms (populations, communities, ecosystems, biomes) . The main sampling strategies and the most common statistical analysis techniques of ecological data are also discussed.

Teaching Methods

The teacher presents the topics in the classroom with the help of power point slides projections.
The slides projected during the lessons are available on the e-learning site.


The recommended reference text is:

- E. P. ODUM,G.W. BARRET, "Fundamentals of Ecology", 5th edition.

Useful text for consultation is:

- M.L. CAIN, W.D. BOWMAN, S.D. HACKER, "Ecology".

Specific reference texts for the first introductory part of the program and for the last part on data analysis respectively are:

- F. CAPRA, "Web of Life".

- J.A. LUDWIG, J.F. REYNOLDS, "Statistical Ecology" (available in the library).

Learning assessment

Verification of learning takes place by sustaining an oral interview with a commission composed of the teacher and at least one other member.
Please note that at the time of the exam, the student must present a valid identification document to the teacher.
In the absence of this document, the exam cannot be taken.

More information

Reservations of exams interviews must be made on the appropriate online site.
It is possible to start making reservations on the site only one week before the scheduled date for the exam.
The deadline for reservations is the day before the date set for the appeal.
Those who are absent on the date of the exam will not be included in any list of students who will have to take the exam if the interviews continue in the following days.
Supplementary exam interviews are provided for students transferred from other universities who have already taken an Ecology exam consisting of a number of CFUs below the 9 required for the Parthenope University degree course and which therefore requires integration.
The dates foreseen for the supplementary interviews are the same as those for the exams for students out of the course, ie on a monthly basis.
At the interview, the transferred students must show, in addition to the identification document, the evaluation form of the exams taken at another university.
Depending on the curricula of the courses of origin, the most frequent cases concern the integration of:
- 1 ECTS (8 ECTS already taken at another University). In this case, the student will have an integrative interview on the topics covered in the paragraph "Sampling theory", as reported in the course program.
- 2 ECTS (7 ECTS already taken at another University). In this case, the student will have a supplementary interview on the topics covered in the two paragraphs "Sampling theory" and "Community data analysis", as reported in the course program.
- 3 ECTS (6 ECTS already taken at another University). In this case the student will support an integrative interview on the topics covered in the three paragraphs "Sampling theory", "Community data analysis" and "Population data analysis", as reported in the course program.