Ecology: from cells to Gaia

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  • Welcome to the Course
  • Module 1. The Scope of Ecology
    • In this module, after an introduction about the meaning and a brief history of Ecology, we will see how plant and animal adapt and interact with their environment and how these interactions changes life histories and populations. Then we will focus on interspecific competition and we will understand that the avoidance of competition is a more common pattern in ecology than pure competition.
  • Module 2. The Ecosystem
    • In this module, we will talk about agonistic and foraging interactions between species (such as predation, herbivory and parasitism) and mutualistic interactions (such as symbiosis, commensalism, endosymbiosis, etc.). Then we will see how these interactions influence the evolutionary ecology of species and their diversity. In the last lesson of this module we will analyse the energy flux and biogeochemical cycles that keep alive Earth’s ecosystems and the whole biosphere (e.g. Gaia).
  • Module 3. Energy in Ecological Systems
    • In this module, we will discuss some fundamental ecological processes, such as those must be present in any Gaian planet. We will consider the Gaian effects of parasites and predators, biodiversity and hypercycles and we will see how these processes regulates our planet. Finally, we will consider the global ecological role of biomass, photosynthesis and carbon sequestration.
  • Module 4. Population Ecology and Evolution
    • In this final module, we will explore the possibility of a new ecology by exploring the concept of sustainability, evaluating the human impacts on ecosystems and providing some solutions for nature conservation. Finally, we will see how to organise a citizen science event, called Bio-blitz, which can improve the scientific knowledge of our planet and, at the same time, rise the ecological awareness of citizens.
  • Final module
    • This module allows you to learn how to organise a Bio-blitz – an intensive biological investigation, which aims to record all the species living within a designated area, comprising groups of specialists supported by non-experts.