By the end of the course, the students will acquire:
(i) a comprehensive overview on the Greek Nature and will understand the factors contributing to the high diversity in flora and fauna, currently present in Greece,
ii) knowledge on the characteristics of the Greek Flora and Fauna, including the vegetation diversity, the freshwater and marine ecosystems and the use of molecular markers in studying the Greek fauna,
iii) knowledge on the threats and conservation of biodiversity in Greece (including the Natura-2000 Network) as well as on ecosystem services
iv) will get familiar with representative ecosystems with special interest for flora and fauna.
Course Content (Syllabus)
Geological history of Greece, factors influencing the current diversity of the Greek flora and fauna. Terrestrial ecosystems. i) Fauna: Diversity and conservation status of land snails, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of Greece. Phylogeography of the Greek fauna (genetic diversity, molecular markers and new genomic approaches). Genetics and conservation. ii) Flora-Vegetation: Glaciations and their influence on Greek flora; refugia. Plant migration routes towards Greece. Endemism. Floristic regions of Greece. Vegetation differentiation in Greece (main ecological and geographical gradients of vascular plant species distribution at the community level). Marine Ecosystems: Main oceanographic features of the Mediterranean Sea and climatic differences among basins. Structure and function of Mediterranean marine food webs and habitats. Distribution and description of marine organisms and their role in the marine ecosystem. Exploitation patterns and biomass status of stocks within the framework of Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Freshwater ecosystems. i) Abiotic environment: Water distribution on earth, lakes and rivers, dam lakes, wetlands, Greek freshwaters (distribution, morphometry, chemical status), Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (Ecological status of Greek lakes). ii) Freshwater fish: Fish morphology, diversity, taxonomy, distribution, the Greek freshwater fish fauna. Threats and Conservation of biodiversity – The Natura 2000 Network. Driving forces and threats to biodiversity. Strategies of biodiversity conservation at European and National level. Natura 2000 network in Greece. Special characteristics of biodiversity in Greece. Biodiversity based ecosystem services. Regulating, supporting, provisioning and cultural ecosystem services.
Preparation of an assignment (equivalent to 1 ECTS)
Practicals: Aquamaps, FishBase, a dive with an underwater drone, how to crash a fish stock, Natura 2000 database.
Field trips (optional, only in the spring semester): 1. Visit to Olympus National Park (NATURA2000 site) and the information Center of the Park; 2. Exploration of habitats diversity in a protected site of the Greek Natura 2000 network and evaluation of their conservation status; 3. Excursion aiming to familiarise the students with the identification in the field of the most common vertebrates and invertebrates of Greece.
Greek Nature, Biodiversity, Conservation, Ecosystem Services, Flora, Fauna