This course presents the principles of evolution and ecology for citizens and students interested in studying biology and environmental sciences. It discusses major ideas and results. Recent advances have energised these fields with evidence that has implications beyond their boundaries: ideas, mechanisms, and processes that should form part of the toolkit of all biologists and educated citizens.
Major topics covered by the course include fundamental principles of ecology, how organisms interact with each other and their environment, evolutionary processes, population dynamics, communities, energy flow and ecosystems, human influences on ecosystems, and the integration and scaling of ecological processes through systems ecology.
This course will also review major ecological concepts, identify the techniques used by ecologists, provide an overview of local and global environmental issues, and examine individual, group and governmental activities important for protecting natural ecosystems. The course has been designed to provide information, to direct the student toward pertinent literature, to identify problems and issues, to utilise research methodology for the study of ecology and evolution, and to consider appropriate solutions and analytical techniques.
Setting the goals connected to the ecological habbits at the beginning of the course and being sticked to them during these 5 weeks, learners are suggested to join an eco-marathon and share their success in social media with the friends. Moreover, during the course learners are going to reflect on their knowledge of ecology, discuss recent issues, share project ideas concerning the environmental protection and do these projects together.
1.1 What is “ecology”?
1.2 Plant and animal adaptations and interactions with the environment
1.3 Environmental conditions and Earth’s biomes
1.4 Life histories and populations
1.5 Interspecific competition and the avoidance of competition
Quiz – Module 1
2.1 Foraging interactions between species: predation, herbivory and parasitism
2.2 Mutualistic interactions
2.3 Evolutionary ecology
2.4 The ecology of biological diversity
2.5 Energy flux and biogeochemical cycles
Quiz – Module 2
3.1 Fundamental ecological processes
3.2 Parasites, predators and Gaian effects
3.3 Biodiversity, hypercycles and Gaia
3.4 Regulating ecological processes
3.5 Biomass, photosynthesis and carbon sequestration
Quiz – Module 3
4.1 A new ecology
4.3 Human impacts on ecosystems
4.4 Conservation biology
4.5 You as an ecologist!
Quiz – Module 4
Final task: organise a Bio-Blitz
ecology, conservation, biodiversity, environment