A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course provides basic knowledge on methods and applications of pollen and spores studies. Topics are highly interdisciplinary ranging from botany, paleontology, archeology and Quaternary sciences.
Expected learning outcomes
Ability to read and interpret a Quaternary pollen record and compare it with other paleoclimatic proxies. Knowledge on pollen dispersal strategies of woody plants and herbs. Ability to evaluate the potential of different sediment types for paleoecological studies.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
During the Academic Year 2020-2021 lessons will be given through synchronous distance learning courses using skype or zoom. Only a limited amount of teaching will be provided through asynchronous modalities (lessons recorded by the teacher). Practicals will be held in presence.
Course syllabus
1. Fundamentals of Systematic Botany. The cycle of pteridophytes and spermatophytes. The reproductive organs of a spermatophyte;

2. Pollen, spores, and other palynomorphs (algal colonies, dynoflagellates). Microsporogenesis, morphology and identification of Angiosperm and Conifer pollen;

3. Pollen production, dispersal and sedimentation. Dispersal vehicles (wind, insects, water). Pollination, co-evolution pollen-insects. Form and function of the apertures, evolutionary trends. Honey: production and pollen analysis. Pollen calendars;

4. Types of deposits, soils and other materials preserving plant remains. Preservation of organic matter: waterlogging and carbonification, dessication, charring, mineralization. Natural deposits: peat, gyttja, carbonates and clastic lake sediments, speleothems, bone breccia, ice, etc. Anthropogenic deposits related to settlements and cults: pile-dwellings, embankments, latrine, wells, graves, rock shelters. Specific materials: resins, barks, coprolites, bones, tephra, human artifacts, forensic case studies;

5. Pollen analysis. Materials and methods: coring, collecting fresh pollen, preparation of a reference collection, laboratory treatments, pollen sum, pollen concentration;

6. Pollen diagrams. Preparation, interpretation and method of statistical elaboration (rarefaction analysis, CCA, correlograms);

7. Biostratigraphy and chronology. The concept of "natural archive": lakes, mires, wetlands and related sediments. Pollen stratigraphy: zonation; multistratigraphy;

8. Plant macroremains. Fruits and seeds, wood, charcoal and other vegetative remains. The use of plant macrofossils for Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and radiocarbon dating;

9. Reconstruction of the palaeoenvironments and their variations. Pollen sources: local, extralocal, and regional sources; identification of a relevant source area for pollen. Palaeonvironmental reconstructions by transects and maps. Palaeoenvironmental changes and their causes (ecological, climatic and anthropogenic);

10. Quaternary vegetation history. Vegetation dynamics and glacial-interglacial cyclicity. Vegetation, climate and anthropic impact during the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene;

11. Archaeobotany. Anthropic activities: terms and examples. Classification of anthropogenic plants. Cereals and their subfossil remains. Archaeobotanical methods: microscopic charcoal analysis, plant content in coprolites and ceramic artefacts.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledges of systematic botany (life cycle of plants) and geology.
Teaching methods
Distance learning courses, webinars, practicals held in presence
Teaching Resources
Pdfs, scientific papers and further bibliographic hints provided by the teacher.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Assessment: oral examination
Evaluation criteria: understanding of the topics discussed both during lessons and practicals, fairness, use of the proper vocabulary
Evaluation: mark expressed in thirty
Mid-term tests: no
BIO/02 - SYSTEMATIC BOTANY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Pini Roberta
Educational website(s)