Ecology of Agricultural Systems

Name: Ecology of Agricultural Systems
Code: PAO11394L
Duration: 15 weeks/78 hours
Scientific Area: Environment and Ecology Sciences

Teaching languages: Portuguese
Languages of tutoring support: Portuguese, English
Regime de Frequência: Presencial

Sustainable Development Goals

Learning Goals

1. To show the dual nature of agricultural systems, describing these systems using both a process-functional approach - energy flow and material cycling - and a population-community approach ? biological diversity across hierarchical levels of organization.

2. To identify negative externalities and environmental impacts related to different agricultural systems.

3. To provide fundamentals of ecology upon which the agricultural systems should stand, encouraging the students to propose measures and actions compatible with the wise use of agro resources, which is the main goal of this curricular unit.


1. Natural systems (ecosystems) as paradigms of any productive process: matter, energy and information as production factors; energy dissipation, products and residues in ecosystems.
2. The second great human impact on biosphere: the invention of agriculture. Characterizing different agricultural productive process, namely in what concerns: energy flow, matter cycling and biodiversity across hierarchical levels of organization - within species, alpha, beta and gamma.
3. Ecosystems attributes versus agricultural systems attributes: complexity/simplicity; diversity/monotony; homeostasis and resilience/regulation by man. Negative externalities and environmental impacts of different agricultural productive processes: greenhouse warming, degradation of habitats and deserts spreading. The implications of agricultural systems on biotopes naturalness and sensitivity.
4. A false dilemma - to produce or to conserve: ways of overcome this apparent problem; examples.

Teaching Methods

Theoretical lectures will be use to present principles and concepts. Analysis and discussion of "case studies" will be used in order to develop technical skills.

Two written tests. Final examination.

Teaching Staff