Land Ecosystems

This course is part of the programme
Bachelor's programme in Environment (first cycle)

Objectives and competences

The primary goal of this course is to give students knowledge of terrestrial ecosystem functions, natural and anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems and energy pathways through terrestrial ecosystems.


The subject is related and complementary to the base objectives of: The Fundamentals of Environmental Science, Ecology, Environment and Society, Environmental Economics, Nature Protection and Agriculture and the Environment.
Pass in any of the above four subjects is required.


The course initially gives an overview of the structural and energy characteristics of land ecosystems, their spatial distribution and their economic and environmental importance to society. It continues with the presentation of land ecosystems from the viewpoint of endangered species and habitats due to global climate change and the impact of exploitation of their renewable and non-renewable resources. The problem of sustainability of land ecosystems in presented with regard to different human activities and appearance of invasive exotic species. The course also covers the impacts of urbanisation and traffic and energy infrastructure on selected ecosystems and the physical and biological structure of their communities, on habitat fragmentation and the formation of numerous transitional areas (ecotones). Several special types of ecosystems are presented: the ecosystem that was formed on vast post-industrial areas of the developed world, agrarian ecosystems and the communities of urban and highly anthropogenic environments (urban green areas, infrastructure corridors, airports, buffer zones etc.)

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
To understand the complexity of terrestrial ecosystems, their strengths and vulnerability to stochastic and anthropogenic impacts.
Ability to undertake a field orientated exercise with appropriate background preparation, literature research and take measurements, analyse data collected and present the results in a full Technical Report at a semi-professional level.


  • Herman H. Shugart, 1998. Terrestrial Ecosystems in Changing Environments. Cambridge Studies in Ecology. Cambridge University Press. 537 str. E-version
  • Susan L. Woodward, 2003. Biomes of Earth: Terrestrial, Aquatic, and Human-Dominated. Greenwood Press, London. Str. 1–230 in 237–395.


Attendance and participation in discussion (20 %), short exam on field observations (20 %), written project report (60 %)

Lecturer's references

Dr. Sara Pignattelli is Assistant Professor in field of Environmental sciences at University of Nova Gorica and is employed at Laboratory for Environmental and Life Sciences at UNG.