The main objective of this discipline is to provide the essential biological knowledge for a future environmental engineer, specifically:

i) The understanding of the basic processes that support evolution and functioning of plant and animal species;

ii) The understanding of the complex role of biota in the environment and related social-economic aspects, providing the science-bases to the decision making;

iii) The development of biodiversity concepts and of conservation and restoration relevance.

The knowledge acquired in this discipline is crucial for the areas of ecology, environmental quality, ecotoxicology, human health, environmental impact assessment and ecological modelling.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Michiel Adriaan Daam


Weekly - 5

Total - 85

Teaching language



Available soon


- Life. The Science of Biology. Sadava, Hillis, Heller e Berenbaum. 9ª edição 2011. Sinauer Associates Inc. USA

- A vast set of publications of ICN - Institute of Nature Conservation, about plant and animal biodiversity of national habitats - Continent and isles.

- Scientific paspers presented in the classes

Teaching method

- Practicals (3h wekly), including a field trip

- Theorical classes inclusing case studies

Evaluation method

The frequency is given by the presence of at least 2/3 of the practical classes.

The assessment of the theoretical and practical components (three tests each) is continuous and  have the same weight in the final grade (50%).

The grading of each component is assessed through the arithmetic mean of the three tests, and the grade of each (theoretical and practical) component should be equal or higher than 10.   

Subject matter

I The Cell. Procariotic and eucariotic cell. The endomembrane system. Passive and active processes of membrane transport. Cytoskeleton. 

II Information and heredity.
 Organelles that process information. Chromosomes, the cell cycle and cell division. The eukaryotic genome and its expression. Defense mechanisms against disease. The immune system.

III Physiology. Plant physiology. Autotrophic processes. Adaptation mechanisms. Animal physiology. Respiratory efficiency. Regulation and homeostasis. 

IV Evolutionary processes. The history of life on earth. Biological classification and evolutionary relationships. The mechanisms of evolution. Reconstructing and using phylogenies. 

V The evolution of biodiversity. Protists. Plants without seeds. Plants with seeds. Early animals and Lophotrochozoans. Ecdysozoans. Deurerostomes.

VI Animal and Plant communities of different types of Ecosystems. Study of the most representative species of distinct environments, through an integrated multi-level approach - taxonomy, comparative morphology and physiology and environmental needs. Laboratory classes together with fieldwork will enable the biota general study in the context of the ecosystem.