Second cycle degree in FOREST SCIENCE - SCIENZE FORESTALI (Ord. 2017)

Campus: LEGNARO (PD)

Language: English

Teaching period: Second Semester


Number of ECTS credits allocated: 6

Prerequisites: No prerequisites are requested.
Examination methods: The exam is written
Course unit contents: The course is organised in 6 sections:
1. introduction to wildlife conservation and management.
The value of wildlife as a natural resource. Economic and social implications of wildlife conservation and management. Goals of wildlife management and management options. What do we conserve/manage? Concepts of species, evolutionarily significant unit, management unit and population: genetic approach, demographic approach, and geographic approach. Distribution, dispersal and metapopulation theories.
2. Population growth
Rate of increase; geometric or exponential population growth; intra-specific competition and density-dependent population growth; the logistic model of population growth and its limitations, population stability and cycles. Age-specific population models. The concepts of sensitivity and elasticity.
3. Wildlife populations monitoring
Counting animals: sampling, accuracy and precision of estimates, overview of the main principles and methods for large mammals and gamebirds. Principles, methods and associated problems in estimating sex ratio, age distribution, reproductive output, survival and mortality. Morphological and physiological measures of individual condition. Molecular genetic tools and approaches to population biology and monitoring.
4. Wildlife harvesting
Concept of sustainable harvest. Effects of harvest on population dynamics and evolution: overharvesting, age and sex biased harvest, the potential of harvest as a selective force, effects of hunting on behaviour. Setting harvest quotas: from a predictive towards an adaptive approach. Harvest as a source of information on population status/tendency. Social, recreational, economic and conservation pros/cons of wildlife harvesting.
5. wildlife-habitat interactions.
The problem of alien and invasive species. Wildlife damages to agriculture and forestry. The growing problem of wildlife-vehicle accidents. Wildlife control: the concept of overabundance; ethics, principles and methods of control. Habitat loss and fragmentation; restoring connectivity, corridors and barriers. Habitat improvement/restoration: basic principles, the problem of spatial scale and economic feasibility.
6. Conservation of small and declining populations
Genetic and demographic problems of small and isolated populations; Animal translocations. The role of Parks and natural reserves. Concept of ecological networks. Concepts of biodiversity hotspot. International conservation: IUCN, CITES, The Natura 2000 network.
The concepts of each section will be illustrated with reference to case studies. One field session will provide students with direct experience of some techniques used in population monitoring