General Ecology


Future Environmental Engineers must be able of undestanding and analysing the following topics::

- Energy and ecosystems: use and degradation by populations and communities.  Practical applications: quantification of different types of ecosystem productivities; evaluation of the positive and negative impacts resulting from the application of different strategies aiming at productivity optimization.
- Responses at population and community level to physical and biotic parameters. Practical applications: to forecast the type and sign of responses, allowing for the evaluation of the limits of tolerance of the organisms to environmental impacts.
- Main mechanisms shapping population dynamics. Practical applications: modelling of population processes and forecast of population numbers.
- Basic understanding of the structure, dynamics and problems presently faced by some types of biomes. Practical applications: design of adequate strategies for ecosystem and biome management.

In summary, students will be able of interpreting , based on scientific principles, the main processes undergone by natural communities. They should become aware of the potential of Ecology as a tool applicable to the mitigation of environmental problems.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Teresa Calvão Rodrigues


Weekly - 4

Total - 96

Teaching language



There are no requirements


ARCHIBOLD, O. W. 1995. Ecology of world vegetation. Chapman & Hall, 510 pp.


BEGON, M., HOWARTH, R. W. & TOWNSEND, C.R. 2014. Essentials of Ecology. 4th ed. Wiley. USA.


BEGON, M., HARPER, J. M. & TOWNSEND, C. R. 1996. Ecology. Individuals, populations and communities. 3rd ed. Blackwell Sci. UK.


BEGON, M., MORTIMER, M. & THOMPSON, D. J. 1996. Population Ecology: A unified study of animals and plants 3rd ed. Blackwell Sci. UK


Coleção Árvores de Portugal editada pelo Público e Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento:

A floresta portuguesa

Os carvalhais e florestas

Os montados

Pinhais e eucaliptais

Do castanheiro ao teixo

Açores e Madeira

Floresta e sociedade

Proteger a floresta

Guia de campo

Teaching method

The teaching method includes weekly theoretical classes and practical classes.

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. Students will be encouraged to discuss/solve environmental problems.

In the practical classes students will work in seeking solutions to proposed real problems: organize, manipulate and interpret data, discuss results and propose solutions.  

Evaluation method

The evaluation mode of the theoretical component will consist in two written tests during the semester and in written answers to exercises performed by groups of two students and submitted in Moodle Platform the following week. This component requires a minimum grade of 9.5.

The evaluation mode of the practical component will be based on two written reports performed by groups of two students. This component requires a minimum grade of 9.5.


The theoretical component will account for 60% (70% for the written tests and 30% for the answers to exercises) of the final grade and the practical component 40%.


To get frequency of the practical part it is required to:

- attend 2/3 of the practical classes

- have an average of not less than 9,5 values in the set of all elements of practical assessment


Subject matter

Presentation. What is ecology.
Environmental conditions and resources
The flow of matter and energy
Individuals and populations. Life and reproduction cycles. Intraspecific competition
Interspecific competition. Predation
Predator-prey dynamics
Communities and ecosystems. Diversity gradients
Community structure and disruption. Temporal patterns and ecological succession
Small populations and threats to biodiversity. Conservation ecology.
Biogeography of islands. Dispersion and dynamics of metapopulations
Natural vegetation of Portugal and its temporal dynamics
Montado ecosystem
Pine forest ecosystem


Programs where the course is taught: