Introduction to the Mediterranean Environment

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 describe the major efforts of conserving biodiversity in the Mediterranean Basin 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  Understanding the biodiversity patterns in the Mediterranean, the major efforts to conserve them as well as the use of geographical tools for studying these patterns Capacity to environmentally assess effects of fire upon Mediterranean ecosystems and evaluate the options for their post-fire managem          

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 schemes for protecting and preserving Mediterranean biodiversity hot-spot. 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 content is delivered through taught lectures, group discussions, an oral presentation. Students are expected to complete a written assignment.      

Coursework And Assignment Details

  Oral presentations. Each of the students 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 25 minutes, while 5-10 minutes will be left at the end for the audience to ask questions and make comments. As an alternative, each of the student should present a study case in which GIS tools have been applied for studying an environmental issue of their interest. Again, the work has to be presented orally within 25 minutes, allowing 5-10 minutes for questions and discussion. 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 three criteria: 1. Performance on a written exam containing 4 questions related to the material presented in the class (70% of the final grade)2. Performance on the oral presentation (15% of the final grade) ·  3. Performance on the written assignment (15% of the final grade)