Terrestrial Ecology


As ecology is an interdisciplinary subject, in this course students will have the oportunity to integrate knowledge acquired in several diferent disciplines. The objective of this course is  - to provide students with a basic understanding of how and why terrestrial plants and animals are distributed at local, landscape, and global scales- to examine the principles on the relationships between terrestrial life and both biotic and abiotic factors in the environment, - to increase awareness of human-induced changes and how they are affecting ecological processes at multiple scales By the end of the course students will be able to explain the spatial distribution of the major terrestrial biomes, their structure and basic functioning mechanisms and the changes that have occurred in the vegetation of Portugal.  In the practical classes students will learn how to work with ArcGis and they will perform several exercises on modeling the distribution of vegetation communities, through the manipulation and integration of different environmental parameters. By the end of the course students will acquire skills to execute operations in ArcGis in order to study natural resources. 

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Teresa Calvão Rodrigues


Weekly - 3

Total - 44

Teaching language



Available soon


DEMANGEOT, J. 1984. Les milieux "naturels" du globe. Masson S.A., Paris, 250 pp.

ARCHIBOLD, O. W. 1995. Ecology of world vegetation. Chapman & Hall, 510 pp.
BARBOUR, M. G., BURK, J. H. & PITTS, W. D. 1987. Terrestrial plant ecology, second edition. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., Menlo Park, California, 634 pp.
DEMANGEOT, J. 1984. Les milieux "naturels" du globe. Masson S.A., Paris, 250 pp.
GODRON, M. 1984. Écologie de la végétation terrestre. Masson S.A, Paris,196 pp.
LEMPS, H. de. 1970. La végétation de la terre. Masson et Cie, Éditeurs, Paris, 143 pp.
WALTER, H. 1985. Vegetation of the Earth and ecological systems of the geo-biosphere, third edition. Springer-Verlag, 318 pp.


ARCHIBOLD, O. W. 1995. Ecology of world vegetation. Chapman & Hall, 510 pp.
CASTRI, F. Di. 1981. Mediterranean-type shrublands of the world. In: Mediterranean-type shrublands. (F. Di Castri, D. W. Goodall e R. L. Specht, Eds.), Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, pp. 1-52.
CORREIA, O. C. A. 1988. Contribuição da fenologia e ecofisiologia em estudos de sucessão e dinâmica da vegetação mediterrânica. Dissertação apresentada para obtenção do grau de Doutor em Biologia (Ecologia e Biossistemática). Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, 196 pp.
DELL, B., HOPKINS, A. J. M. & LAMONT, B. B. (editors). 1986. Resilience in mediterranean-type ecosystems. Dr W. Junk Publishers, 168 pp. Tasks for Vegetation Science, 16.
DI CASTRI, F. & MOONEY, H. A. (editors). 1973. Mediterranean type ecosystems: origin and structure. Springer-Verlag, 405 pp. Ecological Studies, 7.
GÓMEZ-CAMPO, C. (editor). 1985. Plant conservation in the Mediterranean area. Dr W. Junk Publishers, 269 pp.
IBÁÑEZ, J. J., VALERO GARCÉS, B. L. & MACHADO, C. (eds.). 1997. El paisaje mediterráneo a través del espacio y del tiempo. Implicaciones en la desertificación. Geoforma Ediciones, Logroño, 478 pp.
MILLER, P. C. (Editor). 1981. Resource use by chaparral and matorral. A comparison of vegetation function in two mediterranean type ecosystems. Springer-Verlag, 455 pp. Ecological Studies 39.
OVINGTON, J. D. (editor) 1983. Temperate broad-leaved evergreen forests. Elsevier, 241 pp. Ecosystems of the World, 10.
SPECHT, R. L. (editor) 1988. Mediterranean-type ecosystems. A data source book. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 248 pp.
TENHUNEN, J. D., CATARINO, F. M., LANGE, O. L. & OECHEL, W. C. (editors). 1987. Plant response to stress. Functional analysis in mediterranean ecosystems. Springer-Verlag.

ALVES, J. M. S., ESPÍRITO SANTO, M. D., COSTA, J. C., GONÇALVES, J. H. C. e LOUSÃ, M. F. 1998. Habitats naturais e seminaturais de Portugal continental. Tipos de habitats mais significativos e agrupamentos vegetais característicos. Instituto da Conservação da Natureza, Lisboa, 167 pp.
COSTA, J. C., AGUIAR, C, CAPELO, J. H., LOUSÃ, M. & NETO, C. 1998. Biogeografia de Portugal Continental. Quercetea, 0: 1-56.

Teaching method

For Terrestrial Ecology an active, student-centered learning and also a problem-based problem-solving learning is proposed. Students will be encouraged to think and act like professionals in ecology in the resolution of real world case studies. That is, they will have to recognize the problem, identify the ecological principles underlying it and possible solutions.


The teaching method includes weekly theoretical classes (1h) and practical classes (2h).


During theoretical classes the different subjects of the program will be explained, using, where possible, knowledge acquired in other courses, in an integrative view. Whenever there is opportunity facts/news (loss of biodiversity, climate change) will be referred in order to allow consolidation of the concepts.


In the practical classes students will work with a Geographic Information System in seeking solutions to proposed problems: organize, manipulate and interpret data, discuss results and propose solutions. Students will work in teams of two.


During lectures students will be stimulated to participate using knowledge acquired not only in other curricular units but also from actual news/events. Students will have to carry out pre-lectures activities to be able to perform increased discussion with the other students.

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

Theoretical classes 

1. The interface between Climate and Vegetation – Global climate patterns.  Biomes: Regional distribution; Climate; Soils; Landscape; Vegetation adaptive strategies; Fauna; Impact of human activities on ecosystem processes: Tundra, Northern coniferous forests, Temperate grasslands, Temperate deciduous forests, Laurisilva (Evergreen broadleaved subtropical forests), Deserts, Savannas, Tropical deciduous forests, Tropical rain forests


2. Mediterranean type vegetation

3. Vegetation of Portugal: Potential vegetation and present vegetation. Landscape change. 


Practical classes

The exercises performed during practical classes intend to highlight the potential of GISs (ArcGis10) as tools in ecological studies at various spatial scales.