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Ecosystem Energetics

Code: 44547
ECTS: 6.0
Lecturers in charge: prof. dr. sc. Marko Miliša
Lecturers: prof. dr. sc. Marko Miliša - Practicum
Take exam: Studomat
English level:


All teaching activities will be held in Croatian. However, foreign students in mixed groups will have the opportunity to attend additional office hours with the lecturer and teaching assistants in English to help master the course materials. Additionally, the lecturer will refer foreign students to the corresponding literature in English, as well as give them the possibility of taking the associated exams in English.

1. komponenta

Lecture typeTotal
Lectures 30
Practicum 30
* Load is given in academic hour (1 academic hour = 45 minutes)

Fundamental physical concepts pertaining to energy considerations, defining the scope of energetics as a scientific branch. Introduction to physical units and measures. Historical overview of the development of energy research.
Laws of thermodynamics and how they transfer to living and non living entities. Biological implications of the energy of chemical reactions.
The forms and sources of energy on Earth. Converting energy. Transmission and accumulation of energy in biological systems. Aspects of solar activity on the ecosystems on Earth. Electromagnetic spectrum. The energy of electromagnetic radiation. Fundamentals of optics. The role of the atmosphere in Earth's energy balance.
Geothermal energy. Isolated ecosystems supported solely by geothermal energy sources. Nuclear energy, gravity and magnetic field of the Earth, and their importance in shaping the ecosystem.
The concept of energy flow through ecosystems. The basic concept of the ecosystem as an indivisible unity of the living and nonliving matter. Organizational levels of living matter from the molecular level to ecosystem level. Biotic component as the main driver of the circulation of matter in the ecosystem.
Energy and biochemical aspects of chemosynthesis.Chemosynthesis and methanogenesis. Chemosynthesis based on sulfur, iron, nitrogen compounds.
Primary production. History of research. Biochemistry and energetics of photosynthetic processes. Biochemical and energy balance of photorespiration. CAM, C4 photosynthesis. Descriptions of methods of measuring primary production.
Energy balance of primary production in a typical temperate zone biomes. Energy efficiency of extremophylous plants. Phytoplankton as an energy basis in aquatic systems.
Secondary production. Types of nutrition, functional feeding guilds. Sources and food availability in the communities. Balance of energy transfer between different types of consumers.
Plant and animal remains in decomposition processes. Detrital energy path. Destruction and remineralization. The role and status of fungi and bacteria in the position of the ecosystems.
The concept of trophic structure of communities. Ecological pyramids. Conversion efficiency of matter and energy by trophic levels. Food chains, food webs.
Energy linkages between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Models of energy flow through ecosystems. Autochthonous and allochthonous organic matter as an energetic foundation of aquatic communities. The dynamics of the flow and transformation of energy and matter.
The energy concept of eutrophyzation. Description of research methods of trophy and saprobity on energy grounds. Energy flows as indicators of ecosystem condition. Biocenosis degradation and disruption of energy flows in the ecosystem.
Biogeochemical cycles. Hydrological cycle and measurable latent (sensible) heat flux. The cycles of biologically important elements involved in energy processes.
Energy - driving force of evolution. Energy adaptations of animals and plants during evolution - A Success Story.
Measurement of primary production indirectly, by measuring the consumption / production of oxygen from the solution and directly by counting. (4 hours)
Chlorophyll a extraction and measurement.
The measurements of yield of errestrial autotrophs.
Sampling methods for energy and matter analyses of the ecosystem. Samples of macroinvertebrates, leaf litter and sediment. (4-hour practical exercise)
Methods for determination of dry biomass, organic matter content and the energy potential of plant litter. (4 hours)
Introduction to methods and analysis procedures trophic structure of macrozoobenthos. (4 hours)
Methods for determination of dry biomass and organic matter content in isolated animals.
Energy analysis of ecosystems. Synthesis of 8 previous exercises. Methods of calculating secondary production by the sum of increments.
The energy aspect omnivorne heterotrophic nutrition. measuring and calculating the energy of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Learning outcomes:

Synthetic understanding of ecosystems function through the analysis and perception of energy as common feature of matter and processes in the biosphere as well as the drivers of evolution.
Understanding physical i.e. energetic relations among components of the ecosystem.
Ability to describe and explain traits of biological and non-biological components of ecosystems from enegetic viewpoint.
Implement a series of laboratory and field methods in the analysis of ecosystems that are based on the flow and transformation of energy.
Competency to discuss and decide on methods of intervention in the environment in terms of managing environmental resources.
Apply ideas in the ecological research from energetical viewpoint.
  1. Miller Jr. G.T. Spoolman S. (2011): Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions. Brooks Cole.
  2. Ricklefs, R.E. & Miller G.L. (1999): Ecology. W.H. Freeman & Co. New York.
  3. Moore J.C. & de Ruiter P.C. (2012): Energetic Food Webs: An analysis of real and model ecosystems (Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution). Oxford University Press.
  4. Hauer, F.R. & G. A. Lamberti (2007): Methods in Stream Ecology (Second Edition), Academic press, Elsevier Inc.
  5. Harte J. (2011): Maximum Entropy and Ecology: A Theory of Abundance, Distribution, and Energetics (Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution). Oxford University Press.
  6. Moore R., Clark W.D., Stern K.R. & Vodopich D. (1995): Botany. Wm.C.Brown Publishers.
  7. Luo, Y. & Caswell H. (2005): Food Webs: From Connectivity to Energetics (Advances in Ecological Research)
    Academic Press Inc.
    Allan, J. D. (1995): Stream Ecology. Structure and function of running waters. Chapman & Hall.
    McCann K.S. (2011): Food Webs (MPB-50) (Monographs in Population Biology) Princeton University Press.
    Miller D.H. (1981): Energy at the Surface of the Earth: An Introduction to the Energetics of Ecosystems
    Academic press.
    Wetzel R.G. (2001): Limnology, Lake and River Ecosystems. Academic Press. A Harcout Science and Technology Company. London.
    Phillipson J. (1966): Ecological Energetics (Studies in Biology). Hodder.
    Chapin III F.S., Matson P. A:, Vitousek P.M. (2011): Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. Springer.
    Smithson P., Addison K., Atkinson K. (2002): Fundamentals of the Physical Environment. Routledge.
    Burns, D.M.& Macdonald, G.G.S. (1980): Fizika za biologe i medicinare. priredili: Dragica Winterhalter, Božo Metzger, Milica Turk i Branko Čeluska. Školska knjiga.
    Lampert W., Sommer U. (1997): Limnoecology. The Ecology of Lakes and Streams. Oxford University Press. New York,
    Odum E.P. (1971): Fundamentals of ecology. W.B. Saunders Co.
2. semester
MODUL: BIOLOŠKA ZAŠTITA OKOLIŠA - Regular study - Environmental Sciences
Mandatory course - Regular module - Fresh Water
Consultations schedule: