Mediterranean Ecosystems in Italy: Ecology, Vulnerability, and Protection

Barbara Mikac

Italy occupies a central position in the Mediterranean area and most of its territory is characterized by Mediterranean ecosystems. Mediterranean ecosystems are subject to strong anthropic pressures and are particularly sensitive to climate change which causes drought, fires, and sea level rise, resulting in losses of biodiversity and habitats, pollution and degradation of ecosystems and negative socioeconomic effects. The aim of this course is to offer students information on the peculiarities, distribution, and characteristics of the terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean basin, with particular focus on the Italian territory, their structural and functional aspects, and the value and services these ecosystems offer; this knowledge will be deepened through educational visits to various places in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna. Particular attention will be paid to current environmental issues approached from the lenses of environmental science and marine biology, but we will also consider questions of sustainable development and the institutions, laws, and directives for the protection of Mediterranean ecosystems. At the end of the course the student will have knowledge of the typologies, organization and distribution of Italian Mediterranean ecosystems, will be able to identify the ecosystem processes functional to the well-being of people and the environment, and will be aware of anthropogenic disturbances that cause the degradation and loss of these ecosystems and is informed on the tools for their protection.