Cognitive: To introduce and clarify key ecological concepts and approaches, to introduce the methodology of ecological research, to offer basic information on the various ecological themes, and to enable students to develop reasoned positions on ecological issues.
Affective: Inspiration from the understanding of the complexity and constant flux of the natural world, and the transition from fixed knowledge to production of knowledge.
Skills: Development of the ability a) to apply different experimental methods and sampling techniques in the ecological research, b) to address various scientific issues (ecological, primarily) in a rational way, c) to write scientific papers (ecological, primarily) in formal way.
Course Content (Syllabus)
Theory: Scope of Ecology. Methods and tools in ecological research. Soil, temperature, light and organisms. Introduction to population dynamics: population increase and regulation, life tables, intraspecific competition. Community analysis: niche and habitat. Communities in time and space: gradient analysis, ordination, succession. Complexity, stability and disturbances. Food webs and productivity. Nutrient cycles, the water cycle and disturbances. Interactions: competition, predation, parasitism, mutualism. Secondary metabolism and its ecological role. Island Biogeography. Biodiversity at the level of species and biome. Introduction to resource management.
Practical exercise: 1. Writing a scientific paper. 2. Responses of different biomes to disturbances of nutrient cycles: computer simulation. 3. Food webs and energy flow; energy support system of the human food chain.
Field work: 1. Defining appropriate sampling size; application in estimating primary productivity in a Mediterranean ecosystem. 2. Phenology of flowering and floral attributes. 3. Estimation of decomposition rate: use of different materials, under different conditions or in different types of ecosystems. 4. Community analysis: estimating species diversity by use of Shannon and Simpson indices. All carried out in Seih-Sou forest