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CODE 98248
SEMESTER 1° Semester
MODULES Questo insegnamento è un modulo di:



Introduce students to the fundamental aspects of marine biodiversity management and conservation, with specific focus on biodiversity definition and measurement, ecosystem status evaluation, biodiversity maintenance and restoration of marine resources.


The teaching provides the elements for defining, measuring, and analysing biodiversity in the marine environment, offering an overview on its complexity. It aims at explaining how marine biodiversity must be managed and conserved, how biodiversity can be assessed and measured, also using ecological indices, and how biodiversity and marine resources can be maintained and enhanced, also through the marine spatial planning and ecological restoration. The hotspots of marine biodiversity are discussed, with a specific focus on the priority habitats listed in the European Directives, such as seagrass meadows, rocky and coral reefs.

In particular, students will learn: i) the various definitions and concepts of biodiversity; ii) the study methods and the tools used in the field to measure biodiversity; iii) the importance of marine environmental monitoring and ecosystem status evaluation; iv) the strategies for biodiversity conservation; v) ecological restoration methods to enhance biodiversity.

Trough the creation of a personal project they will be able to use the competence aquired during the teaching. 


The teaching consists of lectures and exercises done during classes.
Lectures in the classroom are delivered through multimedia presentations. As there is no reference text adopted for this course, attendance in the classroom is strongly recommended. The student can make use of the material available on Aulaweb.

Several practical classroom exercises will be conducted in order to understand how to quantify biodiversity, ecosystem services and the effect of different impacts that may cause their loss. For this purpose, the use of R software will be introduced. As exercises are regularly performed in class for the application of the acquired knowledge, attendance at lectures and exercises is strongly recommended.

In addition, students will be guided in the development of a personal or group project, which will involve the in-depth study of a topic, starting from bibliographic research, to the framing in the management and regulatory frame and possible repercussions in ecosystem terms, through to the elaboration of proposals for the solution/mitigation of the problem.


The program of the teaching includes:

1. Introduction. Biodiversity hotspots. Classification of nature. Speciation. Divergence between marine and terrestrial biodiversity. The magnitude of marine biodiversity. Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity. The Census of Marine Life and the International Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) database. The latitudinal gradient of missing species richness.

2. Concept, definitions and measurements of biodiversity. Genes, species, communities; taxonomy and ecology. Taxonomic diversity; concept of taxocenosis. Functional diversity. Other kind of diversity (biochemical, trophic, genetic). Inventory of diversity (of point, α, β, γ, ε), concept of intra- and among habitats diversity. Measurement of diversity (with calculation procedures in R): specific richness (Margalef index D), dominance (Simpson index λ), diversity s. str. (Shannon index H’), evenness (Pielou index J). Distributional analysis (accumulation/rarefaction curves) Area-species curve (or sampling effort - species). Examples of sampling procedures and cases of study.

3. Community data analysis: experimental design: how to rigorously assess differences among different communities? Data exploration and visualization: ordinations; SAB model (species, abundance, and biomass) and graphic-distributive methods. Hypothesis testing: permdisp & permanova; practical exercises with real community data and ecological problems using R software.

4. Biodiveristy & Human Impacts. Definition of Anthropocene. The limits of development. Human-nature relationships. Threats to biodiversity and habitat loss. Overfishing and the tragedy of the commons. Marine debris. Macro and micro plastics. Eutrophication. Marine diseases. Alien species. Global ecological footprint and calculation method.

5. Biodiversity & Climate Change. Global climate change. Greenhouse effect. Global warming and prediction models. Sea level rise. Extreme events. Heat waves (definition & calculation with R software). Ocean acidification. Consequence of climate change for species and ecosystems. Cumulative impacts.

6. Conservation of marine biodiversity. Ecological principles for environmental sustainability. Protection of species (concept of sympathy) vs protection of habitats (concept of utility). From species to an ecosystem approach. Flag species and Walt-Disney effect. Concept of key species and its evolution. The IUCN Red List: endangered species, threatened species, endemic species. Vulnerability. Rarity. Extinctions. Population decline and recovery. Conserving marine biodiversity. Agenda 21, the need for conservation and the role of science in sustainable development. Convention on Biological Diversity. Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and Aichi targets. Agenda 2030 and sustainable development goals. International regulations and Directives. The role of Marine Protected Areas.

7. Restoration ecology. From conservation to restoration: legislative framework. Why to restore? The example of coastal marine ecosystems. The ecological restoration process. Standards of Practices & Underpinning Assumptions of the Society of Restoration Ecology (SER). The principles and challenges of ecological restoration. Planning, implementation and monitoring of ecological restoration actions. Active vs preventive invasive species management. Restoration as an active management tool. Challenges of ecological restoration in a changing world. Novel ecosystems. Case studies of sustainable and effective restoration actions: macroalgal forest; seagrasses; molluscs.

8. Biodiversity & ecosystem functioning. Natural resources and ecosystem services. Hypotheses on the role of biodiversity in the functioning of ecosystems: stability; the positive relationship between ecosystem functioning and biodiversity; redundancy; functional classifications and biological traits, key species; idiosyncrasy and importance of historical factors. Succession theory and population dynamic models. Concepts of stability, resistance, resilience, hysteresis.

9. Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services assessment. Basic principles of system ecology; Energy system theory; Odum’s system language; An accounting resources method: Emergy analysis; Emergy concepts and principles; Emergy evaluation procedure; Practical application of the methodology to marine coastal zone (marine forest restoration).

10. Biological indicators and ecological indices. Ecosystem status assessment: expert judgment, biotic indexes, comparison with reference communities. Sentinel organisms. Opportunistic species, indicator species and techniques based on community structure. Ecological indices: metrics, combined indices, aggregation methods, and the choice of reference condition using pristine areas (or protected areas), historical data, models. The problem of data quality in time series. Importance of the objectives: recovery, maintenance, directional trend. Environmental Quality Ratio (EQR) concept. Indices adopted by ISPRA and regional environmental agencies: M-AMBI (Multivariate - Azti Marine Biotic Index), BITS (Benthic Index based on Taxonomic Sufficiency), PREI (Posidonia Rapid Easy Index), CARLIT (CARtography of LITtoral and upper-sublittoral benthic communities). Practical exercises.


The adoption of a reference text is not envisaged. Available (downloadable from Aulaweb) a copy of the presentations used during classes, other material and scientific articles for further information. The teaching material is therefore made up of personal notes and the material available on Aulaweb.


Exam Board







VALENTINA ASNAGHI (President Substitute)



For the academic year 2023-24 the teaching will be at the first semester. For lessons start and timetable go to the link:

Please check the module Aulaweb page for timetable updates dependent on the sanitary and epidemic situation.

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



The final evaluation is made by an oral exam.

The exam will begin with the presentation of a project (personal or group) relating to the topics covered and which will be the product of a pathway taken during the teaching. The exam will continue with discussion questions on the presentation and topics covered during the lectures.


Details on how to prepare the exam and the degree of knowledge required for each topic will be provided at the beginning of the course and confirmed during the classes. The oral exam will mainly focus on the topics covered during the lectures and will aim to assess the achievement of the appropriate level of knowledge. The ability to present the topics clearly and using a correct and scientific terminology will also be evaluated. The oral test includes a personal/group presentation to assess the ability to understand scientific texts related to the management and conservation of marine biodiversity and to process the information based on the knowledge of the subject and the ability to link the various topics for application aspects.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
19/12/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale
11/01/2024 10:00 GENOVA Orale
26/01/2024 10:00 GENOVA Orale
16/02/2024 10:00 GENOVA Orale
27/05/2024 10:00 GENOVA Orale
10/06/2024 10:00 GENOVA Orale
01/07/2024 10:00 GENOVA Orale


Regular attendance to classes is strongly recommended as a reference text is not used for this course. Furthermore, in the classroom, practical exercises will be carried out to verify the understanding of the concepts and topics explained during classes.

 Working students and students with SLD, disability or other special educational needs certification are advised to contact the teacher at the beginning of the course to agree on teaching and 
examination methods that, in compliance with the teaching objectives, take account of individual learning methods.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Climate action
Climate action
Life below water
Life below water