Diversity: scales and levels; species, functional traits, communities. Measures of gamma, alpha and beta-diversity. Relationships between biodiversity, functionality and ecosystem services of forests. Methods for the study of vegetation; Physiognomical and floristic-ecological approaches. Phytosociology. Species as bioindicators. Measures of species diversity. Forest geobotany in Europe and Italy. Zones and belts. Italian forests: synecology and biodiversity.
C. Ferrari - Biodiversità. Dal genoma al paesaggio, 2° ed. Zanichelli, 2010.
D. Ubaldi - Geobotanica e Fitosociologia. Ed. CLUEB, 1997.
Kent M., Coker P. – Vegetation description and analysis - a practical approach. CRC, 1992.
S. Pignatti – I Boschi d'Italia, sinecologia e biodiversità. Ed. UTET, 1998.
Scherer-Lorenzen M., Körner Ch., E.-D. Schulze (Eds.). Forest Diversity and Function. Ecological Studies 176. Springer, 2005.
Lecture notes (in Italian) edited by the teacher are also provided.
Knowledge acquired: concepts and methods for the typological and ecological study of the forest vegetation and the analysis of plant diversity. Better knowledge of the herbaceous flora of the Italian woodlands and the ecological value of bioindicator taxa. Use of quantitative methods for the study of plant diversity and identification of forest community types on a floristic-ecological basis. Use of quantitative methods for the analysis of biodiversity in forest communities. Knowledge of the most important types of Italian woodlands in terms of structure, syntaxonomy, biodiversity, dynamic role, conservation importance and other functions.
Competence acquired (at the end of the course):
Methodologies for the analysis of the forest vegetation and their application in different environments. Use of the phytosociological approach and multivariate techniques of data analysis. Identification of understorey flora of Italian woodlands and of selected bioindicator taxa.
Knowledge of the main Italian forest types.
Skills acquired (at the end of the course):
Capacity to plan and develop typological and ecological studies of woodlands from field sampling to data analysis using statistical techniques. Capacity to recognize numerous herbaceous species of woodlands and to understand their ecological meaning. Capacity to identify the main forest types in Italy and to interpret their synecology, biodiversity, dynamic role, conservation importance and functions. Analysis of plant species diversity of forest communities. Evaluate the implications for forest diversity of various forms of forest management.
Total hours of the course (including the time spent in attending lectures, seminars, private study, examinations, etc...): 120
Hours reserved to private study and other individual formative activities: 72
Contact hours for: Lectures (hours): 24
Contact hours for: Laboratory (hours): 4
Contact hours for: field/practice (hours): 18
Seminars (hours): 2
Type of Assessment
Exam modality: oral discussion of home-work documents prepared by the student on the basis of field data collected during field stages. Discussion of concepts and methods and/or synecological aspects concerning the Europaean and Italian forest vegetation.
Diversity: general concepts. Scales and levels of biological diversity. Taxonomic diversity, functional diversity, community diversity. Alpha, beta and gamma diversity. General characters of the Italian forest flora; functional traits of forest trees (examples of European and Italian species). Flora and vegetation concepts. Potential and real vegetation. Diversity and Dynamics. Successions and climax. Examples of secondary successions in forest vegetation. Serial and catenal contacts. Physiognomical methods; structure, life and growth-forms. Phytosociology: concept of phytocoenose and association; plant community. The forest phytocoenose and its properties as a complex system. The syntaxonomical system: alliance, order, class. Character-species and their ecological meaning. Field sampling of the vegetation and the phytosociological relevè. Minimal area. Data analysis: basic multivariate techniques of classification and ordination of the vegetation plots.
Analysis of alpha and beta diversity with quantitative methods and indices (Shannon and others). Ecological role of the herbaceous and understory flora and interactions with trees. Qualitative aspects of biodiversity (rare and vulnerable species, etc); taxonomic singularity and distinctness, phylogenetic diversity, examples and applications. The functional significance of forest biodiversity: relationships between diversity and main ecosystem functions, productivity and stability.
Survey of the most important forest types in Europe. The EUNIS classification system. Syntaxonomy, synecology and biodiversity of the main types of Italian woodlands.
Quercetea ilicis: mesomediterranean and xeromediterranean vegetation (Quercetalia ilicis; Pistacio-Rhamnetalia). Querco-Fagetea: European mixed broad-leaf woodlands; supramediterranean termophilous oak-woods (Quercetalia pubescentis); west and mid-European mesophilous-acidophilous oak-woods (Carpinion, Quercetalia robori-petraeae); hygrophilous and riparian woods (Populetalia albae); montane beech wood (Fagetalia).
Boreo-alpine conifer woods with spruce, larch and pines (Vaccinio-Piceetea). Alpine and mediterranean-montane pine woods (Erico-Pinetea).
Rete Natura 2000 and forest priority habitats in Italy and Europe.