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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


--Educational objectives:
The course aims to make students acquire specific knowledge on vertebrate animals and in particular on biology, taxonomy, phylogeny, relationships with other taxa and with human activities and to make them aware of the problems related to their conservation and management. The course also aims to provide students with practical skills on taxonomic methodologies, classification and census of vertebrates and in particular of Sardinian fauna.

--Knowledge and understanding:
Acquiring knowledge on vertebrate biology: taxonomy, phylogeny, morpho-functional adaptations and ecological relationships; acquisition of specific knowledge on the vertebrates found in Sardinia. Acquiring a systematic and critical understanding of knowledge by deepening specific topics such as conservation and management of vertebrates.

--Applying knowledge and understanding:
acquisition of skills on taxonomy, classification and recognition of vertebrate species and in particular those present in Sardinia. Acquisition of transmission and dissemination skills of the knowledge acquired by drafting a paper on specific topics from recent scientific literature, which will be presented and discussed in the classroom.

--Making judgements:
acquisition of the ability to integrate knowledge and manage the complexity of the issues and problems inherent in Vertebrates by deepening specific topics and formulating personal reflections and judgments.

--Communication skills:
acquisition of the ability to communicate clearly and unambiguously the knowledge acquired on biology, biodiversity, phylogeny and structural and functional adaptations of the various vertebrate taxa to specialist and non-specialist interlocutors. Acquisition of written and oral communication skills of a paper on specific topics from recent scientific literature.

--Learning skills:
acquisition of skills on taxonomy, phylogeny, biodiversity and ecological relations of vertebrates, also through in-depth studies on methods of management and conservation of wildlife through recent scientific publications, skills necessary to continue the study and continuous updating of knowledge independently.


Basic knowledge of Zoology, Animal Phylogeny, Comparative Anatomy.


• Theoretical part (32 hours of lectures) on:
- Generalities on Chordata: characteristic, phylogeny and taxonomy of Cephalochordata, Urochordata and Vertebrata (Craniata). Origins and evolution of the early vertebrates and adaptive characteristics.
- Main stages of the evolutionary history of the vertebrates: from Agnata to Gnathostomata, early tetrapods and the conquest of the mainland, from Not-Amniotes to Amniotes, diversification of Amniotes in Sauropsida and Synapsida, types of thermoregulation.
- Evolution, distinctive characters and adaptations, diversification, traditional and modern systematics, reproductive strategies and eco-ethology of the main vertebrate groups: Agnata, Chondrichthyes, Actinopterygii, Sarcopterygii, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.
- Conservation of vertebrates. Mass and local extinctions, vulnerabilities, safeguards, censuses and measures to protect endangered species.

• Practical exercises in the laboratory and in the field on taxonomic methodologies, recognition, classification, census of different vertebrate groups and in particular of Sardinian fauna species (24 hours).

Teaching Methods

• The part of the theory (32 hours of lectures) will be conducted through frontal lectures with the use of presentations in PowerPoint, and an in-depth study by students of specific topics on the conservation and protection of vertebrates using scientific literature, and from which a written report and a classroom oral presentation will result.

• The practical part (24 hours) will be carried out in the laboratory, using zoological collections, and on the field, by observing in nature and census of Vertebrate species. For the practical experience, classification guidelines and dichotomic guides will be used.

Verification of learning

The exam consists of an oral examination on the subjects of the course, in which the candidate discusses some topics proposed by the teacher also making use, where necessary, schemes/graphic representations. The student must demonstrate competence in dealing with the topics taught in the lesson, ability to communicate the concepts clearly and using an appropriate specialist language, ability to perform, where required, syntheses and / or links between the topics discussed in the lesson.
In addition, a practical test of recognition and classification of vertebrates examined during the laboratory is carried out.
The exam is passed when all questions are adequately answered (with a vote of at least 18/30), the practical identification is correct, and a positive opinion on the in-depth report is achieved.
The final grade takes into account several factors:
1. Quality of the knowledge, skills, competences: appropriateness, accuracy and consistency.
2. Communication skills: proper use of the specific language of the discipline, logical skills and inherent consequentiality in communicating, ability to connect different subjects by finding the common points and establish a consistent overall design, to summarize, also through the use of specific symbolism of each discipline and graphic expression of ideas and concepts, for example in form of formulas, schemes, equations.
3. Relational qualities: availability to exchange and interact with the teacher during the interview.
4. Personal qualities: critical thinking, ability of self-evaluation.
Consequently, the judgment can be:
a) Sufficient (from 18 to 20/30)
The student demonstrates little acquisition of theoretical knowledge, superficial level, many gaps. Modest communicative abilities, but still sufficient to support a coherent dialogue, logical capacity and consequentiality in fitting the subjects of elementary level; poor capacity of synthesis and rather stunted ability of graphical expression, scanty interaction with the teacher during the interview.
b) Moderate (21 to 23)
The student demonstrates a moderate acquisition of knowledge but lack of expatiation, a few gaps; communicative abilities more than sufficient to support a coherent dialogue; acceptable mastery of the scientific language, logical capacity and consequentiality in fitting the subjects of moderate complexity, good enough capacity of synthesis and acceptable ability of graphical expression.
c) Good (24 to 26)
The student demonstrates a rather large wealth of knowledge, moderate in-depth, with small gaps; satisfactory mastery of the communicative abilities and meaningful scientific language; dialogical ability and critical thinking well detectable, good capacity of synthesis and more than acceptable ability of graphical expression.
d) Outstanding (27 to 29)
The student demonstrates a very extensive wealth of notions, high in-depth, with marginal gaps; remarkable ability in communicating and high mastery of scientific language; remarkable dialogical capacity, good competence and relevant aptitude for logical synthesis, high capacity of synthesis and graphical expression.
e) Excellent (30)
The student demonstrates a wealth of very extensive and in-depth knowledge, irrelevant gaps, high capacity and high mastery in communicating through the scientific language; excellent dialogical ability and marked aptitude to make connections among different subjects, excellent ability to synthesize and very familiar with the graphical expression.
The praise is attributed to the candidates clearly above average, and whose limits, if any, as a whole are completely irrelevant.


- F.H. Pough, C.M. Janis, J.B. Heiser. ZOOLOGIA DEI VERTEBRATI. Pearson.

Identification guides (references books):
- Riconoscere i rettili e gli anfibi. A cura di A. Romano. Muzzio Pocket Guide.
- R. Peterson, G. Mountfort, P.A.D. Hollom. Guida agli uccelli d’Europa.
Franco Muzzio Editore.
- Riconoscere i mammiferi d’Italia e d’Europa. A cura di C.M. Calò. Muzzio Pocket Guide.
- Gli animali della Sardegna. A cura di S. Caredda. Quaderni di Natura, edizioni Il Maestrale.

More Information

Bibliographical material, lecture notes, vertebrate classification guides and dichotomic keys used in laboratories are made available for consultation by the teacher.

Questionnaire and social

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