Fundamentals of ecology


Earth and Environmental Sciences (Master study 2nd cycle)

Biodiversity, ecology and evolution (2nd Cycle)

Course code: MTB01
Year of study: 1st year

Course principal:
Prof. Tanja Pipan, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 50 hours, seminar 30 hours, tutorial 10 hours, individual work 135 hours.
Course type: mandatory
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: Lectures and individual work of a selected investigation and presentation as a seminar work.


Course syllabus (download)


First-cycle Bologna degree or a university degree in the natural sciences.


Content (Syllabus outline)

  • Ecology of ecosystems
  • Species, ecosystem, and genetic diversity; diversity patterns
  • Populations and communities
  • Biotic processes and biological analyses, biogeochemical cycles
  • Trophic relations
  • Energy flow and nutrient cycles
  • Gross and net primary productivity, secondary productivity
  • Monitoring of waters and ecological methods for assessment of water quality
  • Indicator organisms, environmental monitors
  • Invasive species
  • Biodiversity conservation: ecosystem protection, ecosystem and population management
  • Human impact (social, economic, policy and measures)
  • Degradation and loss of ecosystems
  • Conservation and ecosystem biogeography
  • Ecosystem services



  • Odum, E. P., & Barrett G. W. 2005: Fundamentals of Ecology. 5th edition. Cengage. Izbrana poglavja.
  • Smith, T. S., & Smith R. L., 2013: Elements of Ecology. 8th edition. International edition, Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco, Boston. Selected chapters.
  • Tarman, K., 1992: Osnove ekologije in ekologije živali. DZS, Ljubljana, p. 493.
  • Tome, D. 2006: Ekologija. Tehniška založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, p. 330.
  • Selected articles from scientific journals.


Objectives and competences

The primary goal of this course is to equip students with comprehensive understanding of the mutually inseparable material, energy and information interactions between abiotic and biotic environmental elements. Emphasis is placed on the structural, spatial and temporal dynamics within each ecological level and among different levels.


Intended learning outcomes

Students will gain the knowledge of individual ecological systems, from species to ecosystem; they will learn to connect different levels of biotic systems in the way that they identify responses of ecological systems to changes in the environment. Students will understand energetic, structural and functional relations between ecosystem components and anthropogenic impact. They will become familiar with the basic selected ecological research methods, understand the problems of degradation and pollution of ecosystems as well as threats to organisms, and will understand the principles of nature protection. Students will obtain knowledge for development of sustainable management with ecological systems. Student will gain experiences through an independent research project in ecology, data analysis and results interpretation.



Short written seminar and its presentation (50 %), examination (50 %).


Fundamentals of ecology

Prof. Tanja Pipan, Ph. D. ,


Habitats and nature conservation

Assoc. Prof. Urban Šilc, Ph. D. ,