Environmental modeling

Aims

To introduce the students to the physical background of the Mediterranean environment (geological history, current geology and soil types, climatic classifications and peculiarities) To analyze the patterns of biodiversity in the Mediterranean and the factors underlying them · To describe the major vegetation types and, in more detail, the characteristics of the Mediterranean ecosystems ·      To analyze fire as a factor of disturbance of the Mediterranean environment ·         To explore current post-fire management practices and their applicability          

Prerequisites

None

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge of the peculiarities of the Mediterranean environment ·    Capacity to use main climatic classifications Understanding and identifying the main vegetation types of the     Mediterranean environment  Capacity to environmentally assess effects of fire upon Mediterranean ecosystems and evaluate the options for their post-fire management  

Syllabus

The physical background of the Mediterranean environment. Geological history and evolution of the Mediterranean Basin. Climate classifications and the climatic characteristics of the Mediterranean. Factors defining the biodiversity of the Mediterranean.  Major vegetation types. Characteristics of the Mediterranean ecosystems – adaptations to water stress. Man and the Mediterranean landscape. Fire Ecology. Post-fire management options. Simulating the resilience of Mediterranean ecosystems.  

Content Delivery

The component is delivered through taught lectures, group discussions, an oral presentation and a field trip. Students are expected to complete a written assignment.  

Coursework And Assignment Details

Oral presentations. Students will be divided in 7 groups of two each. Each of the group will be provided a published research or review paper dealing with any of the subjects discussed in the class. The paper should be presented orally (with a power point) in front of the class strictly for 10 minutes, while 5 minutes will be left at the end for the audience to ask questions and make comments.   Written assignment. Each student will be asked to identify a city within the Mediterranean region for which he/she will collect a series of climatic data according to a specific protocol. Then, the students will be asked to produce the climatic diagrams of the area in reference and, based on that, deduce the potential vegetation of the adjacent ‘natural’ area to the city. The students will be asked to explain their results and justify their conclusions. Evaluation criteria. Students will be evaluated at the end based on the following two criteria: Performance on a written exam containing 4 questions related to the material presented in the class (60% of the final grade)         Performance on the oral presentation (20% of the final grade) ·         Performance on the written assignment (20% of the final grade)