Course objectives: Course provides a comprehensive overview of classical and contemporary aspects of freshwater algae biology and ecology and takes full advantage of excellent range of aquatic habitats to provide a sound introduction to their recognition, identification and ecology. Emphasis will be placed on the use of the microscope and taxonomic keys for the identification to generic and species level and their ecological importance. The course focuses on how to get grip with identification, and the broader aspects of algal morphology, structure, reproduction, and classification. The aim of the course is to provide a broad training in identification and ecology of all freshwater algal groups, with the emphasis on more common algae and those used for monitoring. Related topics, such as practical techniques, aspects of monitoring and implications of the EC Water Framework Directive, will be introduced into the course. This course will also address the needs of aquaculturists, fishery biologists, research students, conservationists, contract agency staff and others with an interest in identifying freshwater and terrestrial algae. Our combined expertise ensures that we are able to comprehensively cover all the ecologically most important algal groups.
Enrolment requirements and required entry competences for the course: Basic knowledge of algae and the basics of ecology. Autonomy in the use of computer programs: word processing (Word), tabular and graphical processing of numerical data (Excel), an image presentation (PowerPoint), and a system of e-learning.
at the level of the study programme to which the course contributes: After completing the study program, students will have highly specialized theoretical and practical knowledge that forms the basis for originality in developing and or applying ideas. Shows a critical awareness of the diagnosis of problems based on research, bringing together knowledge from new or interdisciplinary fields. Develop new skills in response to new knowledge and techniques. Demonstrates leadership and innovation in work and study contexts that are unfamiliar, complex and unpredictable and that require solving problems involving many interacting factors. Critically reflects on the strategic work of the team. Show independence in the direction of learning and a high level of understanding of the learning process. Arguments to communicate project results and methods of professional and general audiences using appropriate techniques
at the level of the course: Apply the acquired knowledge: 1 the distribution of abiotic and biotic factors in shallow and deep lakes, 2 methods of field research and laboratory work with plankton, 3 process results in the appropriate computer programs, 4 analyze and explain the results of research and experiment to assess the degree of trophic state or saprobity aquatic ecosystems, the seasonal dynamics of plankton and its role in aquatic ecosystems food chains, 5 present and explain the results of analysis and research, 6 work collaboratively in the research, analysis and presentation of results, 6 restoration aquatic ecosystems
Course content broken down in detail by weekly class schedule (syllabus):
Course provides a broad training in identification and ecology of all freshwater algal groups, with the emphasis on more common algae used for monitoring in water quality as well as BQE (Biological Quality Element) for the EUWFD (Water Framework Directive).
1. Lecture (4 contact hours) Evolution and principles of taxonomic classification. Algal cell structure, anatomy and morphology, pigments and chemotaxonomy, reproduction, developmental cycles. Economic importance of freshwater algae. Ecology of algae in freshwater environments. Subject matter is divided according to taxonomic categories: Cyanobacteria (bluegreen algae), euglenoids, chrysophytes, dinoflagellates, diatoms, green and red algae. Practical (4 contact hours) Introduction to field and laboratory work and equipment. Methods of investigation in biocenology of freshwater ecosystems (collection of benthic and plankton samples). Samples collection and sampling protocols. Preparation of algal samples for analysis. Preservation and archiving algal samples, Concentration of samples using methods of sedimentation and centrifugation. Methods of quantitative and qualitative analyses. Introduction to the most important identification keys and identifications principles. Determination of population density and biomass. Importance of keeping all records in field notebook and how to make useful laboratory notes.
2. Lecture (4 contact hours) Historical context of algological studies, definitions, terminology, general features, abundance and distribution, ecological role, environmental assessment and use of algae for monitoring purposes. Methods of algae investigation in freshwater ecosystems. Practical (4 contact hours) First look at mixed soft algae samples; range of: blue-green algae, euglenoids, chrysophytes, dinoflagellates, red and green algae. Introduction to key identification features in live samples, basic structure of algae (coccoid, filamentous, colonial, etc), structure of cell, shape of cell, shape of chloroplast, presence of mucosa around the cell, etc.
3. Lecture (3 contact hours) Structural and functional characteristics of algae in dependence of ecological factors in water ecosystems (water temperature, flow velocity, light, concentration of metabolic gasses, concentrations of mineral salts). Characteristics of planktonic, benthic, and periphytic algal communities. Practical (4 contact hours) Diatoms: taxonomy and techniques. Diatom cleaning by nitric acid digestion, preparation of permanent diatom slides, analysis of diatoms. Introduction to major diatom identification keys and literature as well as web sites.
4. Field trip (12 contact hours) at lentic and lotic ecosystems (in Zagreb surroundings or in NP Plitvice Lakes) with practical demonstration of all above mentioned field sampling and sample preparation techniques.
5. Lecture (3 contact hours) The role of algae in Water Quality Assessment according to the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). Ecological classification (ES), reference condition (RC), biological quality elements (BQE) and parameters. Practical (4 contact hours) Periphyton data analysis for purposes of the WFD: sampling intervals and methods, preparation of slides, sample collection assemblage analysis (taxonomy, abundance, biodiversity), and processing of data (compilation and analyses of the results).
6. midterm exam, Practical (2 contact hours) Short test of acquired skills in identification and enumeration. Consultations with students.
7. Practical (4 contact hours) Phytoplankton data analysis for purposes of the WFD: sampling intervals and methods, preparation of slides, sample collection assemblage analysis (taxonomy, abundance, biodiversity), and processing of data (compilation and analyses of the results).
8. Practical (3 contact hours) Computer applications and databases part one: multivariate statistical methods and analytical methods. Use of statistical and graphical programs in investigation of spatial and temporal algal distribution corresponding to ecological parameters (Statistica, Primer, Grapher, Surfer, Corel Draw). Interpretation of graphic presentations.
9. Practical (3 contact hours) Computer applications and databases part two: softwares for index calculation and water quality assessment (OMNIDIA, Krebs, Cro Troph D). Preparation of algal data files and data base. Water quality parameters, physical and chemical water quality parameters, biological water quality parameters, quality control, and quality assurance.
10. Practical (4 contact hours) Independent work in small groups. Students preparation of algal data files. Individual students shaping for the final report. Discussion sessions. Practical (2 contact hours). Students oral presentation of final essay.
Type of instruction: lectures, seminars and workshops, exercises, mixed e-learning, field work, independent study, multimedia and the internet, laboratory, work with the mentor, Active students participation in all forms of teaching
Student responsibilities: Regular attendance and activity in lectures and exercises, making individual assignments and actively participate in the preparation and presentation of the final project.
Grading and evaluation of student work over the course of instruction and at a final exam: Active participation in lectures 9%, Tests (colloquia) 9%, Independence and creativity in practical training and project 66%, Oral exam 16%.
Methods of monitoring quality that ensures acquisition of exit competences: Quality evaluation will be internal and external. Internal: 1 Periodic assessment by students at the beginning and at the end of the course in the form of small anonymous questionnaire, 2 monitoring of understanding study matter during the course, 3 students success at the exam, oral and written report, and 4 evaluation team from Division of Biology UNIZG. External: 1 Preferably by an evaluation team from outside the Faculty of Science, 2 foreign experts, 3 external assessors.