Ecology: from cells to Gaia

This course presents the principles of evolution and ecology for citizens and students interested in studying biology and environmental sciences. It discusses major ideas and results.
25 lessons with assignments
Free schedule
Learning via chatbot
Certificate of completion
Sign up for the course for free. Learning will start in autumn 2022
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About the course
Recent advances have energized biology and environmental fields with evidence that has implications beyond their boundaries: ideas, mechanisms, and processes that should form part of the toolkit of all biologists and educated citizens. Major topics covered by the course include fundamental principles of ecology, how organisms interact with each other and their environment, evolutionary processes, population dynamics, communities, energy flow and ecosystems, human influences on ecosystems, and the integration and scaling of ecological processes through systems ecology.
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  • 11 135 students
  • Rating 4.51
This course will also review major ecological concepts, identify the techniques used by ecologists, provide an overview of local and global environmental issues, and examine individual, group and governmental activities important for protecting natural ecosystems. The course has been designed to provide information, to direct the student toward pertinent literature, to identify problems and issues, to utilize research methodology for the study of ecology and evolution, and to consider appropriate solutions and analytical techniques.

Target audience

  • Citizens and students interested in studying biology and environmental sciences
  • Needed Learner Background: general biology and a good understanding of English

What will you learn

  • Theoretical and practical issues involved in ecology and evolution
  • Conduct surveys and inventories in ecology
  • Analyze the information gathered
  • Apply your analysis to ecological and conservation problems
Author
Roberto Gazzolo Gatti
Italian environmental and evolutionary biologist with a Ph.D. in ecology. He is an Associate Professor of Biological Diversity and Conservation at the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BiGeA) of the Alma Mater Studiorum — University of Bologna, Italy, where he is also a member of the BIOME — Biodiversity and Macroecology Lab. From 2015 to 2021, he served as an Associate Professor at the Biological Institute and as the Head and Scientific coordinator of the International MSc Program in Biodiversity of the Tomsk State University, in Russia.

In parallel to his professorship in Russia, in 2021, he also worked for a semester as an Associate Professor of Ecology at the Polytechnic of Rouen (UniLaSalle) in France; in 2020-2021 he received the prestigious Senior Research Fellowship of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition in Austria; in 2018-2019 he joined the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources of Purdue University in the USA as a Research Associate; and in Summer 2019 he was a Visiting Professor of the Beijing Forestry University in China to teach Biodiversity to international Ph.D. students.

In 2018, he was included among the 105 interdisciplinary „visionary smart thinkers“ by the renowned magazine „Motherboard“ of the Vice Media Group.
Course program
Welcome to the Course
  • About the university
  • About the course
  • About the course team
  • About the International Master's Degree in Biodiversity
  • Recommended literature for the course
Module 1. The Scope of Ecology
In this module, after an introduction about the meaning and a brief history of Ecology, we will see how plants and animals adapt and interact with their environment and how these interactions change life histories and populations. Then we will focus on interspecific competition and we will understand that the avoidance of competition is a more common pattern in ecology than pure competition.

  • What is „ecology“?
  • Plant and animal adaptations and interactions with the environment
  • Environmental conditions and Earth’s biomes
  • Life histories and populations
  • Interspecific competition and the avoidance of competition
Module 2. The Ecosystem
In this module, we will talk about agonistic and foraging interactions between species (such as predation, herbivory and parasitism) and mutualistic interactions (such as symbiosis, commensalism, endosymbiosis, etc.). Then we will see how these interactions influence the evolutionary ecology of species and their diversity. In the last lesson of this module we will analyze the energy flux and biogeochemical cycles that keep alive Earth’s ecosystems and the whole biosphere (e.g. Gaia).

  • Foraging interactions between species: predation, herbivory and parasitism
  • Mutualistic interactions
  • Evolutionary ecology
  • The ecology of biological diversity
  • Energy flux and biogeochemical cycles
Module 3. Energy in Ecological Systems
In this module, we will discuss some fundamental ecological processes, such as those that must be present in any Gaian planet. We will consider the Gaian effects of parasites and predators, biodiversity and hypercycles and we will see how these processes regulate our planet. Finally, we will consider the global ecological role of biomass, photosynthesis and carbon sequestration.

  • Fundamental ecological processes
  • Parasites, predators and Gaian effects
  • Biodiversity, hypercycles and Gaia
  • Regulating ecological processes
  • Biomass, photosynthesis and carbon sequestration
Module 4. Population Ecology and Evolution
In this final module, we will explore the possibility of a new ecology by exploring the concept of sustainability, evaluating the human impacts on ecosystems and providing some solutions for nature conservation. Finally, we will see how to organize a citizen science event, called Bio-blitz, which can improve the scientific knowledge of our planet and, at the same time, raise the ecological awareness of citizens.

  • A new ecology
  • Sustainability
  • Human impacts on ecosystems
  • Conservation biology
  • You as an ecologist!
Modern visual language
All lessons are shot in a modern studio, and graphics were created by designers
25 lessons
This is enough to cover the topic. Each lesson is made in the format of a longread with video lectures, text and graphic materials and links
Vivid and constructive speech
The author speaks simply and clearly, using catchy examples
Free schedule
There are no deadlines or due dates for homework assignments. Materials are available immediately, you can start learning through the chatbot at any time and return to the course when you have time
Support
Directly through the chatbot where you learn, you can request the help of technical support, which will promptly answer you.
Certificate
To get a certificate, you need to complete the assignments for the lessons
what students say
Ecology: from cells to Gaia
This course presents the principles of evolution and ecology for citizens and students interested in studying biology and environmental sciences. It discusses major ideas and results.

What will you get

  • 25 lessons with assignments in a chatbot
  • Author’s presentation: simple, clear and with interest in the subject
  • Free schedule: no deadlines and due dates for assignments
  • All materials are available immediately, you can start learning at a convenient time
  • Professional video and modern graphics
  • Quick contact with technical support
  • Certificate of Completion

What will you learn

  • Theoretical and practical issues involved in ecology and evolution
  • Conduct surveys and inventories in ecology
  • Analyze the information gathered
  • Apply your analysis to ecological and conservation problems
Sign up for the course for free. Learning will start in summer 2022
Choose a messenger in which it will be convenient for you to study or leave your email so you don't miss the news
available soon