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CODE 84069
SEMESTER 2° Semester
MODULES Questo insegnamento è un modulo di:



The main goal of this teaching is to examine in depth the diversity and ecological role of benthos in the main benthic environemnts, both marine and freshwater. Special attention will be given to the abiotic and biotic constraints and the adaptative responses of the organisms. An overview of the benthic bionomy and the natural and anthropic impacts on benthos will be also provided. Laboratories and field activities are scheduled, to offer the students the basic tools to study benthos.


Attendance and participation in the training activities provided (lectures, practice exercises, and field activities) will allow the student to acquire the general knowledge of Bentonology necessary to undertake studies in the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Specifically, the student will be able to:

1. describe the main animal and algal/plant biocoenoses of aquatic systems and identify their typical species

2. understand, interpret, and describe the biogeographic distribution and composition of biocoenoses and adaptations of the involved species based on the interactions between organisms and environmental gradients

3. apply the basic knowledge acquired in the context of issues related to the monitoring and conservation of aquatic environments

4. assess the health and vulnerability of an ecosystem using indicator species and analyse the biological responses to environmental gradients

5. summarise and outline the observations in choral presentations and develop critical skills


To effectively address the teaching contents, basic knowledge related to the zoology of invertebrates and ecology is necessary.


The course consists of lectures, theoretical-practical activities and a field trip. Attendance to lectures and practice exercises is strongly recommended.

Lectures in the classroom are delivered through multimedia presentations.

The theoretical-practical activities are aimed at the application of the theoretical knowledge acquired during the lectures. In particular, the following will be developed:

1) Group exercises related to the visual census technique through analysis of photographic images with standard squares

2) Group exercises related to the ROV-Imaging technique for the study of the deep fauna of invertebrates and fish

3) Group exercises aimed at understanding human impacts with particular regard to the sustainability of fishing

4) Group exercises aimed at analysing images and critically evaluating the environmental gradients and the characterising species 

The exercises are carried out in the classroom with the use of a computer and include a joint discussion of the results of the exercises carried out.

The course also includes one field trip along the Ligurian coast aimed at characterising (through snorkelling) the hard-bottom intertidal community and using visual census techniques to study the fish fauna.


The course program includes the presentation and discussion of the following topics:

  • General definitions related to benthos and principles of benthic bionomy
  • Main methodologies for the study of benthos
  • Principles of benthos ecology 
  • Environmental, biological and ecological characterisation of the animal and algal/plant biocoenoses of the main benthic ecosystems (intertidal, rocky subtidal and caves, incoherent subtidal, algal/plant-dominated environments, bioconstructions, animal-dominated environments, deep environments, ephemeral environments, coral reefs, fjords, polar environments, transitional environments, fresh waters)
  • Anthropogenic impact on benthic communities


All the slides used during the lessons and other didactic material will be available on AulaWeb / TEAMS at the end of each lesson/exercise.




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 exam consists of an oral test and is aimed at assessing the knowledge of the fundamental elements of the subject and the ability to connect between the various topics. The final mark is given by the arithmetic average between the marks of the two modules of MARINE BIODIVERSITY and ADAPTATIONS.

The test can be taken independently of the other module (Ichthyology). The exams published on the UNIGE website include 5 dates in the summer session (June, July, September).



Details on how to prepare for the exam and the degree of in-depth analysis required for each topic will be provided during the lessons. The exam will focus mainly on the topics covered during the lectures and will aim to assess not only if the student has reached an adequate level of knowledge, but also if he/she has acquired the ability to recall theoretical notions by applying them to simple contexts, such as the description of images of aquatic environments presented and discussed during the examination. The ability to present arguments clearly and with correct terminology will also be assessed.


Constant and regular attendance to lectures and related practice exercises is strongly recommended.

Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with Professor Sara Ferrando (, the Department’s disability liaison.