It is announced that the call for registrations to ERACOM MSc program will open at 20 February 2016



A1. GEOMORPHOLOGY, ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY OF COASTAL AREAS

ERACOM, A1

Core course

6 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Yannis N. Krestenitis, Brian Helmuth, Konstantinos Albanakis, Kalliopi Pagou

 

Description

Coastal areas form a boundary between two different worlds, terrestrial land and the open sea. Definitions of what define "coastal zones" vary widely throughout the world but can be seen as dynamic region of interaction between the land, atmosphere and the sea, where the sea influences the land and vice versa. They are continually shaped and influenced by physical processes as well as different organism have adapted to these volatile environments. In this course students will learn about the hydrology of coasts, lagoons, marshes and main physical and biological features of the open sea and coastal areas. The course includes an introduction on the main properties, functions and principles of the various marine environments, including properties of seawater, oceanic and coastal circulation, and biological productivity. While emphasizing ecosystem pattern and processes, this course introduces ecological principles of both population and community ecology and strives to relate ecological knowledge to the broader context of the many global environmental challenges we face today. Lectures cover basic concepts including the diversity of life and evolutionary origin, distribution and dispersal of marine organisms, the complex ways in which organisms interact with their physical environment, and the principles of population growth and species interactions. Primary production, decomposition and nutrient cycling in ecosystems, top-down and bottom-up effects, their trophic dynamics and food webs are considered, and the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem stability and ecosystem functioning, disturbance and succession of communities will be explored. 

 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will:
  1. Understand how the coast and the ocean ‘work' through various meteorological,
    physical and ecological principles and processes.
  2. Be able to effectively participate in discussions and deliver presentations using
    academic terminology and/or layman terminology used in the field of coastal and
    marine management.
  3. Understand the role of open sea as a source of food and energy and the large
    scale environmental problems humans have induced with uses of oceans'
    different resources.
  4. Be able to address the main natural aspects and processes that govern human
    uses of coastal and marine areas.
  5. Students will gain an understanding of Integrated Coastal and Ocean
    Management as a field of knowledge, based on its history and most recent
    developments.
  6. Be able to integrate different aspects of ICM, from a social, economical and ecological perspective, to assess problems and issues.
  7. Be able of applying their understanding and interpretation of
    coastal areas to design integrated management plans to approach coastal and
    marine issues.
Assessment
  1. Two writing assignments (20%)
  2. Three discussion sessions (20%)
  3. Student seminars (20%)
  4. Final exam (35%)
  5. Class participation (5%)
 

     Course Outline - lectures

 
 

A2. COASTAL MARINE RESOURCES AND SOCIETY

ERACOM, A2

Core course

6 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Konstantinos Stergiou, Anastasios Tselepides, Athanasios Tsikliras

 

Description

This class will explore the complex interrelationships between coastal and marine natural resources and humans and communities. In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition that the marine environment can not be managed effectively without the cooperation and participation of resource user groups and coastal stakeholders. Co-management and community-based management are two related, yet different approaches wherein cooperation and partnership are paramount and responsibility is shared, formally or informally, between state and user groups and/or communities of place and interest. The focus of this course will be to critically examine the extent to which co-management and other alternative community-based strategies provide a viable approach to marine management. Studies of such efforts from around the world, in different social and cultural contexts, will be critically examined to determine costs and benefits, the opportunities for and barriers to their implementation, and the conditions necessary for the development of sustainable, community-based coastal management systems.
 
 
Learning outcomes
  1. Students will gain a systematic understanding of the most recent knowledge of
    the complex interrelationships inherent in human use and interaction with coastal
    and marine natural resources and systems
  2. Students will be able to accurately define a problem, think about it in a critical
    manner, assess information at hand and draw inferences about how best to
    approach its resolution
  3. Students will be knowledgeable about the complementary and competing
    interests that influence the design, implementation and outcome of community-
    based management processes
  4. Students will strengthen their abilities in aspects of organizational behaviour,
    facilitation and power-sharing dynamics in collaborative management
    arrangements
Assessment
  1. Exams (40%)
  2. Research paper (30%)
  3. Draft research paper (20%)
  4. Oral presentation (10%)
 

    Course outline-lectures

 

A3. ENVIRONMENTAL AND RESOURCE ECONOMICS WITH EMPHASIS ON COASTAL AND MARINE ENVIRONMENTS OF EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

ERACOM, A3

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Eftichios Sartzetakis, Dionysis Latinopoulos

 

Description

The course provides a theoretical framework and methodological tools for understanding the relationship between the human economy and the natural environment, focusing on coastal and marine areas. The course introduces the tools of standard economic analysis (supply and demand, welfare economics) and uses them to analyse the main environmental and natural resource problems (market distortions, public goods provision, common property resources) and the resource allocation problem over time. The role of properly defined property right is discussed and a variety of policy instruments are presented and evaluated. Furthermore, the course introduces elements of interdisciplinary approaches such as ecological economics models. The class will focus on the application of theoretical perspectives to a diversity of resources and environmental issues, in an attempt to identify possible solutions to overexploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources and to pollution problems. 
 
 
Learning outcomes
  1. Students will acquire a systematic understanding of environmental and natural
    resource economics concepts and public policies based on the most recent
    information and research in the field.
  2. Students will be able to apply the analytical approaches learned to analyze
    fundamental environmental and resource issues mainly specific to coastal and
    marine environments.
  3. Students will be able to develop a research project proposing a solution or an
    improvement to existing policies/practices at a local, national or global level
  4. Students will improve their communication skills in teamwork and oral and
    written presentations. 
Assessment
  1. Exam (40%)
  2. Research paper (30%)
  3. Draft research paper (10%)
  4. Oral presentation (20%)
 
 

A4. PROTECTED MARINE AREAS AND ANTHROPOGENIC IMPACTS ON COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS

ERACOM, A4

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Drosos Koutsoubas, Emmanuil (Manos) Koutrakis, Chryssanthi Antoniadou

 

Description

This course will give students an understanding of human interaction consequences in both open water and coastal environments. Human activities induce impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems, including fisheries and aquaculture, pollution and climate change thus leading to urgent actions towards ecosystem conservation. This class will address the issues, challenges and opportunities related to the management of coastal and marine resources through a focus on the design, implementation and evaluation of marine and coastal protected areas. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Coastal environment involve a broad spectrum of management goals, from facilitating multiple uses, including both consumptive and non-consumptive uses, to fully protected marine reserves. Worldwide, MPAs are being seen as both necessary and appropriate in addressing anthropogenic impacts resulting from human use and overuse, of the marine ecosystems, including commercial and recreational fishing, marine transportation, offshore development related to oil and gas resources, mineral extraction and renewable energy, land-based sources of pollution, and global climate change though the appropriate marine spatial planning. Similarly coastal protected areas, such as estuaries and coastal lagoons receive the impact of all human activities in the coastal zone. Students will be given the opportunity to learn about how protected areas managers are confronting these challenges, and develop a practical understanding of the tools managers use, and acquire some understanding of what challenges have yet to be effectively met.
 
 
Learning outcomes
  1. Students will gain a systematic understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of management of marine and coastal protected areas, learning to "think like a manager."
  2. Students will gain a systematic understanding of issues related to biodiversity issues, ecosystem functioning and conservation issues on a global perspective with a particular emphasis on the Mediterranean. 
  3. Students will be able to accurately define a problem, think about it in a critical manner, assess information at hand and draw inferences about how best to approach its resolution.
  4. Students will be knowledgeable of the various relevant human activities that can adversely affect the structure and function of coastal and marine ecosystems.
  5. Students will gain skills in participating in and facilitating group discussions and deliberations, as well as crafting and delivering effective presentations targeted to key stakeholder audiences.
  6. Students will have the opportunity to participate actively in management issues related to conservation policies and practices in particular typical Marine and Coastal Protected Areas in the E. Mediterranean which constitute ‘case studies’ (e.g. National Marine Park of Zakynthos – Ionian Sea; Vistonis andNestosDelta National Park – Aegean Sea) 
Assessment
  1. Class presentation (20%)
  2. Seminar participation (10%) 
  3. 1 paper written in the format of a named international journal (70%)

 Course outline-lectures

 
 

A5. CLIMATE CHANGE AND MARINE RESOURCES

ERACOM, A5

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Basile Michaelidis, Hans O. Pörtner, Felix Mark

 

Description

Climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems emphasize the need for a common understanding of the climate sensitivity of marine organisms by physiologists, ecologists and climatologists. Understanding whole organism responses to climate warming link to ecosystem response and build on a suite of tissue, cellular, molecular and genomic events, in a systemic to molecular hierarchy of limitation. All of these are involved in setting limits to tolerance, shaping a species-specific, limited budget of tolerance over time beyond thermal limits. In this course two main drivers of climate change will discussed in extent, a) the global warming and b) the ocean acidification. Moreover, the synergistic impacts of the above climate change divers will be analysed and discussed as well. Emphasis will be given in the economical impacts of these two stressors on the farmed marine organism and mainly on molluscs and fish. 
 
 
Learning outcomes
 
In this course the students will learn:
  1. The physiological principals determining the thermal limits of marine organisms.
  2. The concept of oxygen and capacity limitation of thermal tolerance (OCLTT) was
    proposed as a matrix integrating the levels of biological organisation 
  3. The synergistic effects of environmental stressors including ocean acidification.
  4. They will learn how the adaptation to various climate regimes becomes visible in
    the positioning and width of thermal windows on the temperature scale.
  5. They will learn the correlations between RCM and physiological traits.
  6. To discuss tools and plans for Climate Adaptation. 
Assessment
  1. Oral presentation (10%)
  2. Research paper (20%)
  3. Draft research paper (20%)
  4. Exams (50%)

 Course outline-lectures

 
 
 

A6. MARINE BIODIVERSITY PRESERVATION-ECO-INNOVATION, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

ERACOM, A6

Core course 6 ECTS
Period    
Instructors Aggelili Kallia-AntoniouEmmanuil (Manos) Koutrakis), Eugenia Petridou

 

Description

This course has multiple goals. First, presenting the overview of public policy tools as well as how those tools can be applied to solve selected issues arising when managing coastal and marine areas. Students will analyze complex policy issues and explore the conflicts often arising due to competing interests of various stakeholders in coastal and marine areas, as well as the tension between short-term interests of specific groups and long-term interests of the community. Both policy instruments and different types of policy implementations will be discussed. An overview also of international and European instruments (conventions, declarations, directives etc.) that are relevant for coastal and marine areas will be given. The relations between international conventions, European legislation, domestic legal frameworks and policies at the international, European, national and local level will be clarified. Second, students will engage in interactive exercises to gain deeper practical understanding of policy processes and legislation. Third, it will be demonstrated how the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) can support coastal zones and how this is approached in EU and in Mediterranean level. The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) – project design and management is demonstrated. Fourth, examples from several countries will help the students to compare and contrast national coastal and ocean policies in different parts of the world. Fifth, the different financial instruments available at European level, covered by the EU legislation, as well as the procedures to obtain financial aid for coastal management will be presented and discussed. Sixth, as entrepreneurship is essential for sustainable development in coastal and marine economic zones, participants will be trained in the field of entrepreneurship and managing entrepreneurial activities. At the end of the course, a workshop will be run to introduce them in business plan software.

 

Learning outcomes
  1. Students will gain a systematic understanding of the role of policy and legislation in the sustainable management of coastal and marine areas.
  2. Students will be able to analyse complex policy issues related to coastal and marine areas, including mapping the interests of the various stakeholders.
  3. Students will be able to provide solid policy recommendations that take into account the interests of stakeholders as well as the long-term interests of the general public.
  4. Students will be able to use the procedures demanded by the European financial instruments to protect and manage coastal areas. 
  5. Students will acquire a systematic understanding of entrepreneurial issues concerning Coastal marine enterprises. 
  6. Students will be able to understand the logic behind the development of a business plan, promoting their own innovative ideas.
  7. Students will be trained to prepare a business plan in initial stage.  
 
Assessment
 
A Multiple choices exam (60%).
A team essay, based on a business plan logic, analyzing an innovative idea in the area of coastal and marine zone will be submitted (40%).
 

Course outline-lectures 

 

 
 

 

B1. ENVIRONMENTAL RISK ASSESSMENT

ERACOM, B1

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Fransesco Regoli, Ioannis Karakassis

 

Description

This course introduces concepts and methodologies of environmental impact assessment (EIA), strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and environmental monitoring program (EMP). As well, it reviews past environmental impact studies, highlighting their strengths and their weaknesses. EMP provide aquacultures with an annual summary of the activities occurring on licensed aquaculture sites including development rates, species farmed, feed inputs, disease incidents, interactions with large marine invertebrates and chemical use. The purpose of environmental impact assessment is to ensure that the environmental effects of a proposed development are fully considered, together with the economic or social benefits of the development, before the planning application is determined expressing the “pollution prevention principle” of the EU law. EIA is thus an anticipatory, participatory environmental management tool. Special attention will be paid to the scientific quality of EIA studies (design and confounding factors) and how authorities comply with regulations and directives. EIA will also be put into the context of the Water Framework Directive and the European Marine Strategy of the EU. Students will have an exercise in how to prepare and implement an impact assessment of a project, plan and a policy. In the latter part of the course there will be an introduction to the theory and methods of various management systems used in the world. The class will review the rationale for such systems, as well as their principles, components and use. Different environmental and sustainability management frameworks will be evaluated.
 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will:

  1. Be familiar and capable to work with the EU Directives on EIA and SEA.
  2. Have gained insights into the theoretical and practical sides of EIA and SEA.
  3. Be able to critically assess the quality of EIA studies.
  4. Be able to put EIA studies into the context of the EU framework.
  5. Be able to set up EIA projects under different environmental settings, and write reports and recommendations for authorities.
  6. Have become familiar with how to organise and implement environmental and
    sustainability management systems.

Assessment

Student's final grade will be based on class participation and discussions (25%); presentation of bibliography assignment (30%); and practical exercises and case study (45%).
  

Course Outline - lectures

 
 

B2. MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING (MSP) OF AQUACULTURES-ESTIMATION OF CARRYING CAPACITY

ERACOM, B2

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Ioannis Karakassis, George Koumoundouros, Efthimia Antonopoulou 

 

Description

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an evolving idea, and one whose time has come. Ecosystem-based management is essentially place-based or area-based, and an important step in defining ‘‘place’’ is through the mapping of biophysical conditions and human uses in the oceans. In this course students will be introduced to fish farming in general as well as farming techniques. This course will especially focus on the biology of farmed fish and the interaction between environment and farm. This will be followed up by study of how regulations are set and comparison between established farm sites and new farm sites. Further, students will learn how to assess and evaluate environmental impact of fish farming. Adaptation to sustainability, or carrying capacity, is now basic to all aspects of social development. In aquaculture, the concept of carrying capacity is used in the sense of how much we can produce in an area without the environmental effects becoming more negative than we are prepared to accept. There is also a strong desire to introduce more species into aquaculture, so that we can exploit the unique opportunities that the coast offers for aquaculture. The industry will also be less vulnerable if it does not depend on just a few species. In the field of shellfish farming and ranching, we are studying the relationships between the environment, food availability and production. This will give us the new basic knowledge that we need to enable us to site and operate shellfish farms appropriately. The aim of the course is to give students an overview of sustainable aquaculture practices and well as the main challenges of the industry in terms of sustainability. 
 
 
Learning outcomes
 
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
  1. Discuss on how key ecological concepts relate to ecosystem-based management
    in general.
  2. Explain the heterogeneity at various spatial scales and time frames.
  3. Describe the nature of population connectivity, interaction webs, biogeochemistry
    and the inherent complexity of marine ecosystems
  4. Understand of how fish farm is operated.
  5. Explain what state-of-the-art farming/breeding programs are used.
  6. Explain what common constrains are involved in farming fish.
  7. Outline main regulations and typical environmental monitoring schemes.
  8. Estimate farm output and carrying capacity in coastal areas.
Assessment
 
Student's final grade will be based on class participation and discussions (25%); presentation of bibliography assignment (30%); and practical exercises and case study (45%).
 

Course outline-lectures 

 
 

B3. REMOTE SENSING, REMOTE MONITORING AND GEOGRAFICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS)

ERACOM, B3

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructor

Konstantinos Albanakis, Thomas Alexandridis, George Zalidis

 

Description

The lectures include an introduction to the physical principles of remote sensing, relevant satellite sensors, advantages and problems in monitoring and assessing of the coastal zone. Photo-interpretation and digital image processing techniques for producing environmental information, image enhancement and classification techniques. Sources of data (satellites, airphotography, UAVs). Principles and technology of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Data models, geodatabase design, and data entry. Spatial and tabular queries of geographic data, overlay analysis, proximity analysis and map algebra. Design of a thematic map. Instruments for resources survey (GPS, spectroradiometer, etc.). Applications of remote sensing and GIS in the coastal zone to map the environmental pressures (such as location and acreage of intensive farming, location and extents of aquacultures and other human activities), to map the state of the ecosystems (such as maps of terrestrial and marine habitats, water quality and water cycle), and map the impact on the ecosystems (such as the level of degradation and loss of habitats). This course will provide the student with an understanding of the basic concepts of remote sensing and GIS and its role as a data management tool in coastal zone management. The course is divided between lectures and laboratories and an emphasis is places on practical experience using GIS software (ArcGIS). Moreover students will learn about the development of small microprocessor-based data storage tags that are surgically implanted or satellite-linked and which provide marine researchers a novel avenue for examining the movements, physiology and behaviors of pelagic animals in the wild. When biological and physical data obtained from the tags are combined with satellite derived sea surface temperature and ocean colour data, the relationships between the movements, behaviors and physical ocean environment can be examined. Tag-bearing marine animals can function as autonomous ocean profilers providing oceanographic data wherever their long migrations take them. The biologging science is providing ecological physiologists with new insights into the seasonal movements, habitat utilization, breeding behaviors and population structures in of marine vertebrates. In addition, the data are revealing migration corridors, hot spots and physical oceanographic patterns that are key to understanding how organisms such as bluefin tunas use the open ocean environment. Modern tags have powerful microprocessors, increased memory, and improved sensors thus providing more precise and rapid sampling of the environment. Remote sensing satellites provide global views at higher resolutions, more useful for integrating environmental data with animal collected data. Together these new tools are advancing the science of biologging and improving the capacity of the physiologist to tackle unanswered ecological questions.

 

Learning outcomes

On completing this course the student will have:

  1. An awareness of the main sources of spatially referenced data.
  2. Skills and practical experience in handling spatially referenced data.
  3. Knowledge of GIS data, data models and spatial databases.
  4. An appreciation of issues relating to data quality in GIS.
  5. An awareness of how remote sensing and GIS is used in coastal zone
    management.

Assessment

Student's final grade will be based on class participation and discussions (25%); presentation of bibliography assignment (30%); and practical exercises and case study (45%).

pdf iconCourse outline-lectures

 

 

B4. BIOLOGICAL INDICATORS OF AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM STRESS- APPLIED BIOLOGICAL METHOOLOGIES FOR RISK ASSESSMENT IN FARMED AND WILD MARINE ORGANISMS

ERAECOM, B4

Core course

6 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Lars Tomanek, Francesco Regoli, Inna Sokolova, Theodore J. Abatzopoulos, Alexandros Triantafyllidis 

 

Description

The interest in and use bioindicators (including biomarkers and biocriteria) for use in environmental assessment has increased steadily during the last decades. With a greater variety of biological assessment tools now available an improved understanding of ecosystem structure and function, and an increased ability to interpret biological data, biocriteria have become more attractive and useful for assessing the effects of environmental stressors on biological systems. Biomarkers and bioindicators have their own unique set of advantages and limitations relative to their value and use for assessing the effects of stress on aquatic ecosystems. In general, biomarkers are used to indicate exposure of an organism to a stressor, and bioindicators are used primarily as indicators of stress effect at higher levels of organization mainly because of their composite or integrative nature. The main attributes of biomarkers and bioindicators that are important for consideration in the design of bioassessment studies are sensitivity, temporal scales of response, and ecological or biological significance. In this course student will learn the main bioindicators and biomarkers used for assessing the health of marine ecosystem and organisms. Also this course will provide guidance relative to the design, measurement, and application of various biocriteria in aquatic ecosystems. The lectures will address all major levels of biological organization from biomolecular to the community and landscape levels.

 

Learning outcome

  1. Understanding the bioindicators and biomarkers
  2. Guidance of methods applied for monitoring and assessment studies.
  3. Design of biocriteria for ecosystem risk assessment
  4. Integrating biondicators and biomarkers to ecological relevance

Assessment

Student's final grade will be based on class participation and discussions (25%); presentation of bibliography assignment (30%); and practical exercises and case study (45%).

 

Course outline-lectures

 

B5. ECOLOGICAL AND CLIMATE MODELLING IN GLOBAL AND REGIONAL SCALES

ERAEMCR, B5

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Theodore Karacostas, Antonios Matzaris, John M. Haley, Prodromos Zanis

 

Description

Ecological modelling as a rather new scientific discipline offers a series of tools and techniques towards improving our understanding on the functionality and structure of ecological systems in order to support conservation, management, and policy development. Ecological modelling combines biological sciences, mathematics, physics, and computer sciences. In this course students will learn the modelling tools and research activities to provide the basis for evaluating patterns of diversity and problems arising at different ecosystems and to describe basic ecological process and ecosystems.  A series of different techniques and research examples be presented including: spatial and temporal population models, coupled ecological-economic models, simulation dynamic models, individual based models, and population viability analyses. The basic goal of this course is to improve the understanding on ecological modelling toolsets and develop the ability to use such tools for studying environment issues and processes. Main ecological components, key concepts and principles in ecological modeling scientific branch are described. Also the course explores the benefits of climate modelling for understanding the climate system and assessing climate variability and climate changes. The course begins with a description of the climate system, its feedback mechanisms and the chemistry-climate interactions. It continues with a historical review of climate models and a description of the basic components of a climate model including the dynamical core and the physical parameterizations. It follows an introduction to Global Climate Models (GCMs) and Regional Climate Models (RCMs).Then the theoretical part of the course ends with analysis of the errors and uncertainties in climate future projections related to initial and boundary conditions, the natural forcing and anthropogenic forcing and the importance of stochastic projections for future climate change. At the end of the theoretical part of the course a training course will follow using a simple climate model for the assessment of greenhouse-gas induced climate change and a regional climate scenario generator to produce spatially detailed information of this climatic change. 

 

Learning outcomes

  1. To provide a background in fundamental aspects of environmental science and
    ecological modelling issues and tools.
  2. To address the links between natural environments, real data and predictive
    modelling tools.
  3. To become familiar with simulation models and learn how to develop system-
    dynamic models that could be applied in scientific, environmental, and social
    systems
  4. To provide a general structure and toolsets for ecological modelling that
    incorporates models at different structural levels operating at different spatial
    and temporal scales.
  5. The ability to describe and analyse environmental datasets by using specific
    modelling processes.
  6. Develop a theoretical framework upon which conceptual models will be developed
    and used to study historical and current data in order to select effective
    conservation policies. Students will gain insights into climate modelling and its
    applications in global and regional scale.
  7.  Students will be able to critically assess the use of GCMs and RCMs for studies at
    coastal environments.
  8. Students will become familiar with setting up a GCM model experiment through
    the training course.
  9. The training course will allow the students to determine changes in greenhouse-
    gas concentrations, global-mean surface air temperature, and sea level resulting
    from anthropogenic emissions.
    Students will be able to set up GCMs projects for the assessment of greenhouse-
    gas induced climate change under different future emission scenarios, and write
    reports and policy recommendations.

Assessment

  1. Two writing assignment (50%)
  2. Student seminars/Class presentation (50%)
 
 
 

B6. CONSERVATION PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOLOGY

ERACOM, B6

Core course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

John F. Steffensen, Paolo Domenici

 

Description

In response to threats to global biodiversity, conservation practitioners require science-based information on the causes and consequences of species decline so that they can develop and implement effective strategies to stem this loss. Animal physiologists have begun making contributions to conservation biology based on their knowledge of endocrinology, immunology, and sensory biology. The recognition that physiological tools and knowledge have the potential to inform conservation policy has led to the definition of the nascent discipline of “conservation physiology.” Indeed, conservation physiology has much to offer policy makers because of the rigorous experimental approach and the focus on elucidating cause-and-effect relationships.The subdiscipline of conservation physiology, defined as “the study of physiological responses of organisms to human alteration of the environment that might cause or contribute to population declines”, is one of the most recent formal integrations. Physiological constraints or requirements sculpt the behavioral and life history choices of individuals and provide mechanistic linkages with population processes and conservation policies. This area of physiology entails the design of experiments studying live animals in natural conditions to further our knowledge for resource management and species conservation.
 

 

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students will be able:

  1. To get insights regarding the potential of physiological traits of marine organism
  2. To learn about the relationship between the physiological mechanisms shaping the physiological traits and performance in their habitats
  3. To learn about the physiological mechanisms limiting their physiological performance
  4. To learn that physiological ecology becomes and remains useful as a policy tool
  5. To identify and measure physiologically relevant biomarkers.
  6. To understand physiology within an ecologically relevant framework

Assessment

  1. Research paper (50%)
  2. Draft research paper (10%)
  3. Oral presentation (20%)
  4. Final research paper (20%)

 

Course Outline - lectures

 

B7. Elective Course

ERACOM, B7

Elective course C1 or C2 or C3 or C4

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

 

 

 

 

C1. SEDIMENT QUALITY AND ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT IN HARBOURS AND POLLUTED AREAS

ERACOM, C1

Elective Course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Francesco Regoli

 

Description

Sediment quality assessment is of crucial ecological and toxicological importance for all those activities related to removal and management of such materials. Economic implications are also relevant, since political decisions on management choices are greatly influenced by the technical assessment of their quality and the associated risks. Nonetheless, the definition of sediment quality can be highly controversial and normative guidelines on risk assessment procedures often vague. Students will be introduced to main issues related to sediment quality characterization and management options especially in harbour areas and in highly polluted sites subjected to remediation activities. Beside methodological and instrumental approaches, sampling strategies adopted within harbours or complex industrialized sites will be presented, including choice of geographical grids, transects and core depth. Physico-chemical, chemical, microbiological and toxicological characterization of sediment samples will be presented, with the main parameters typically analyzed, Sediment Quality Guidelines (SQGs) and Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs). Classification of sediments will be discussed using integrated approaches, which allow assignment in different quality classes. More frequently adopted management options will be illustrated, including the necessity to suggest mitigation procedures during dredging operations, and monitoring actions before, during and after the end of different phases. Recent case-studies will be presented. 
 
 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will:

  1. Organize a sampling strategy for sediments in harbours and industrialized areas.
  2. Choose the most appropiate chemical analyses and toxicological test, depending on different SQGs, EQSs and management objectives.
  3. Integrate different typologies of data to classify sediments quality and propose management options. 
  4. Definginh procedures to mitigate dredging operations and plan adequate monitoring actions. 
  5. Communicate sediment quality classifications and the risk to decision makers. 

Assessment

Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation and discussion (30%), presentation of a seminar (30%) and oral examination (40%).
 

Course outline-lectures

 

C2. ECOSYSTEM-BASED MANAGEMENT FOR MARINE CONSERVATION

ERACOM, C2

Elective course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Antonio Pusceddu 

    

Description

Over the pastthirty years, the coastal oceans have been severely affected by a wide variety of high-impact human activities. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is a relatively novel approach to environmental management that considers holistically the complex array of interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, rather than considering single issues, species, or ecosystem services in isolation. Such approach is currently considered to be a reliable toolfor maintainingthe structure and functions of ecosystems. The EBM is based on the scientific knowledge about ecological, social, and economic processes that affect ecosystem-based management and governance of coastal-marine ecosystems. Although recently some progress has been made in the codification of EBM, the scientific community has not yet reached a full sharing of the principles that should guide the management, conservation and monitoring of marine coastal environments. Indeed, though the importance of an ecosystem approach is widely accepted, its application and implementation remain goals not fully achieved, yet. This class will explore the complex interrelationships between coastal and marine natural resources and humans and communities and the ways the strategies of protection of marine biodiversity can help in conciliating ecological and economical sustainability. The focus of this course will be to critically examine the extent to which the ecological principles linking biodiversity, ecosystem functions, goods and services can be reliably and profitably applied for achieving an ecologically and economically sustainable use of marine habitats. Case studies from different areas of the world linked with different uses of marine ecosystems will analyzed and discussed towards the identification of possible implementation measures. 

 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will:

  1. Have gained a systematic understanding of the most recent knowledge about the relationships between marine biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the provision of goods and services to the humans.
  2. Have gained the basic knowledge of marine conservation principles based on an EBM Approach.
  3. Be knowledgeable about the complementary and competing interests that influence the design, implementation and outcome of community-based conservation processes of marine ecosystems.
  4. Have strengthened their abilities in identifying and possibly resolving social conflicts and ecosystem consequences of marine conservation policies and measures. 
 Assessment  
  1. Class participation and discussion (20%)
  2. Critical examination of bibliographic essays (30%)
  3. Presentation of a plan of management of a marine protected area (50%) 

 Course outline of lectures

 

C3. PHYSIOLOGICAL ECOLOGY OF MARINE ORGANISMS

ERACOM, C3

Elective course

4 ECTS

Period

 

 

Instructors

Inna Sokolova

 
 
 Description
 
Examining animals in their natural environments has been a traditional pursuit of the animal physiologist. Throughout the history of our field, researchers have conducted physiological and behavioral studies of free-living animals using innovative techniques, novel engineering and natural ingenuity. Physiologists and ecologists have long been interested in knowing where animals go and how they function in response to natural environments. Today, as once distinct science fields merge even more, physiological ecologists share keen interests in studying the linkages between life history traits, physiology and environment. By conducting careful measurements on free-ranging animals, physiological ecologists have revealed insights into how animals occupy diverse environments and the limitations of physiological performance. The data enables them to consider how natural selection acts in the real world, beyond the confines of the laboratory. In the 21st century the field of physiological ecology will reemerge, and advance at an accelerated pace due to new technological advances (e.g., biologging science) and multi-disciplinary approaches. This will enable collection of field data that will answer questions about how animals use their environment. The course content starts with a review of the basic principles of physiological ecology, expands into some of its central themes of physiological ecology, and then concludes with a discussion of how organisms on rocky shores, salt marshes, and coral reefs are able to cope with their environment. These processes are explored from an ecological (distribution and abundance etc.), organismal (respiration, feeding, growth rates etc.), cellular (adaptations etc.), and to lesser extent from a molecular (DNA and gene level processes) perspective, a trend that emulates the current direction of this rapidly evolving field.
 

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students will: 

  1. Learn the strategies employed by marine organisms to cope with their physical environment. 
  2.  Characterize biologically relevant parameters used to monitor change in coastal marine habitats.
  3.  Learn a variety of techniques and approaches that are frequently employed by marine physiological ecologists and other researchers to study coastal marine habitats.
  4.  Review and examine some of the most recent findings in marine physiological ecology of coastal marine organisms.
  5.  Relate local scale physiological response of coastal marine organisms to global climate change.
 

Assessment

Student's final grade will be based on class participation, exercises and discussions (25%); annotated bibliography assignment (30%); and 45% will be based on a group assignment work on a local case study and a final presentation (details and description of the case study group assignment will be given during class).
 

Course outline-lectures

 

C4. PHYSIOLOGICAL MARINE GENOMICS: TOOLS AND CONCEPTS

 

ERACOM, C4

Elective course

4 ECTS

Period

   

Instructors

Inna Sokolova

 
 
Description
 
Organisms that live in variable environments must adjust their physiology to compensate for environmental change. Modern functional genomics technologies offer global top-down discovery-based tools for identifying and exploring the mechanistic basis by which organisms respond physiologically to a detected change in the environment. Given that populations and species from different niches may exhibit different acclimation abilities, comparative genomic approaches may offer more nuanced understanding of acclimation responses, and provide insight into the mechanistic and genomic basis of variable acclimation. The physiological genomics literature is large and growing, as is the comparative evolutionary genomics literature. Yet, expansion of physiological genomics experiments to exploit taxonomic variation remains relatively undeveloped. Here, recent advances in the emerging field of comparative physiological genomics are considered, including examples of plants, bees and fish, and opportunities for further development are outlined particularly in the context of climate change research. Elements of robust experimental design are discussed with emphasis on the phylogenetic comparative approach. Understanding how acclimation ability is partitioned among populations and species in nature, and knowledge of the relevant genes and mechanisms, will be important for characterizing and predicting the ecological and evolutionary consequences of human-accelerated environmental change. The term marine genomics encompasses all work that involves the analysis and use of genes in marine organisms, and is at the heart of modern marine biology.
 

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students will learn: 
  1. How genomics resources (i.e. gene/protein sequences) for marine organisms will greatly facilitate the application of these fields to questions in marine ecology.
  2. How the application of genome-based technologiesare being used in studies that address organismal physiology and environmental stress.
  3. How a particular genotype leads to the phenotype and how gene regulation contributes to this process.
  4. How genomic approaches help in exploring organismal performance across a variety of spatial scales.

Assessment

Student's final grade will be based on class participation, exercises and discussions (25%); annotated bibliography assignment (30%); and 45% will be based on a group assignment work on a local case study and a final presentation (details and description of the case study group assignment will be given during class).
 
 

Course outline - lectures

 
 
 
 
 

 

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