In the soil resides more than a quarter of the biodiversity of our planet and in this environment it is represented about 95% of global biological diversity. The soil fauna, especially invertebrates, is a fundamental part of this biodiversity and is intimately involved in the regulation of biological processes and in maintaining environmental balance that ensure the continuity of life on earth and the health of the land. the primary objective of this course is to provide students with the theoretical and practical basis for sampling, identifying and studying the diversity of the soil fauna at both taxonomic and ecological levels.
In particular, students will be presented:
1) a general introduction to the ecology and biodiversity of soil, analysing the edaphic biological diversity and its evolution from an animal perspective;
2) an analysis of the soil fauna, with emphasis on the morpho-functional adaptations to this environment, and its ecology;
3) the use of indices of soil quality based on the fauna present in it;
4) the use of animal representative groups, selected for detailed analyses.
In parallel with theoretical lessons, practical lessons will be performed in the field and in the laboratory. The fieldwork is aimed to illustrate to students the main sampling techniques of the soil fauna in different environmental contexts; the laboratory lessons are aimed to provide tools for the identification of soil invertebrates using both traditional and interactive keys.


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