Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


A.Y. Credits
2016/2017 8
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Maria Balsamo Wednesday h. 11-13
Teaching in foreign languages
Course partially taught in a foreign language English
This course is taught partially in Italian and partially in a foreign language. Study materials can be provided in the foreign language and the final exam can be taken in the foreign language.

Assigned to the Degree Course

Biological Sciences (L-13)
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The course aims at providing students with basic information on the structure and biology of the animal organism and a general picture of animal biodiversity with special reference to the Italian and Mediterranean fauna, included the main species parasiting man and domestic animals. These topics as well as the theme of interrelations between animals and environment are treated from an evolutionary point of view. The course includes practical activities in laboratory, field trips and visits to Museums and Aquariums.


1.  General Part

Kingdoms of living organisms. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Structure and physiology of the eukaryotic cell. Cell cycle, mitosis, meiosis. Significance and evolution of mitosis and meiosis in the animal cell. Chromosomal and molecular bases of heredity. Concepts of species and biological evolution. Microevolution: variability, natural selection, genetic drift, law of Hardy-Weinberg. Macroevolution: speciation and extinction of species. Mass extinctions. Notions of the theory of natural selection from Darwin up today.

Shape and functions of the organism-cell in Protista and of cells of the animal body. Body dimensions e symmetry. Support. Movement and locomotion. Nutrition and digestion. Respiration, osmoregulation and excretion in the aquatic and terrestrial environment. Circulation. Homeostasis. Nervous system and its evolution in animals. Types of receptors. Notions of the hormonal coordination. Sexuality and reproduction in Protista and Animalia. Adaptive significance of the asexual and sexual  reproduction in Protista and Animalia. Regeneration. Gonads: gametes, gametogenesis and modalities of fertilization. Parthenogenesis. Genotypic  and phenotypic sex determination. Embryonic development: radial and spiral cleavage, direct and indirect development. Neoteny.

2. Systematic Part

Diversity of animal life. Fundamentals of biological systematics: taxa and categories. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Classification and phylogeny.

Regnum Protista: ground plan, biology, reproduction and ecology of Sarcomastigophora, Apicomplexa e Ciliophora. Biological cycles of main protozoan infesting humans and animals.

Regnum Animalia: origin of the pluricellular condition. Ground plan, biology, reproduction, ecology and phylogenetic position of the major animal phyla. Porifera. General features and biological cycle of Cnidaria. Platyhelminthes: general features. Trematoda and Cestoda: life cycle of the main human and animal parasites. Rotifera and Nematoda: general features. Biological cycle of the most important Nematode species parasiting humans and animals. Origin and function of body cavities. Mollusca: adaptations of the various classes, ecology of the most common Italian species. Annelida: metamery and adaptations. Reproduction, ecology and phylogeny. Arthropoda: origin and principal evolutionary lines. Chelicerata: general features. Arachnida (Scorpiones, Araneidae, Acarina). Crustacea: general features. Malacostraca: ecology of the most common Italian species. Chilopoda and Diplopoda. Hexapoda: general features. Main orders of Pterygota and identification of some common Italian species.  Examples of insects infesting man and domestic animals. Echinodermata: ground plan, biology, ecology of species common in Italy. Chordata: origin and evolution. Diagnostic characteristics of the classes of Vertebrata and their phylogenetic relationships. Animals and environment. Intraspecific and interspecific relationships. Interrelations between animals and their habitat. Concepts of  biological community, ecological community, habitat, ecosystem, trophic chain, ecological niche, biosphere. Elements of zoogeography. Significance and types of areal. Mechanisms of dispersion of animal species.

** Only some of the programme topics mentioned will be taught in English.

Bridging Courses

None. Basic is the good knowledge of contents of the course in Cytohistology.

Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

The student at the end of the course will have a demonstrable  basic knowledge of the anatomical structure and the physiological functions of the body in the major animal groups. This information is essential for acquiring an in-depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology and ecology of animals, that are topics covered in specific courses taught in subsequent years of the Degree Course.

The student must acquire the ability to apply the methods for identifying the major animal groups, and will be able to correlate aspects of their general and functional biology with adaptation to different habitats. In particular, the student will be able to apply methods of identification of the main species of protists and animals parasites of man and domestic animals, in line with the professional skills required to a Junior Biologist. 

The student will prove to have acquired autonomy in the application of knowledge obtained as to make independent decisions and choices in the face of a problem inherent in biodiversity and animal biology.


The student will be able to deal competently with experts on issues related to biodiversity and animal biology. He/she should also show good communication skills also towards persons not specifically informed of these issues.

The student will prove he/she can read and understand scientific texts, also in English, and to use them for study and research.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Supporting Activities

Practical activities in laboratory are held by the teacher with support of teaching staff. Organization of conferences on specific topics focusing on animal biology and biodiversity is also planned as well as observations in the field  and screening of naturalistic videos.

Teaching, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


Class lessons, guided laboratory activities, field trips


No obligation.  The participation to laboratory activities is very recommended.

Course books

Course texts

De Bernardi et al. (2016) Zoologia. 2nd Edit. Idelson-Gnocchi Ed., Napoli( Vol. 1 Parte sistematica; Vol. 2 Parte generale).

or (for the General Part)

Reece et al. (2015) Campbell - La forma e la funzione negli animali.   Pearson Italia, Milano.

Reece et al. (2015) Campbell - Meccanismi dell'evoluzione e origini della diversità. Pearson Italia, Milano.

Reference texts

Pough et al. (2014) Zoologia dei Vertebrati. Pearson Italia, Milano-Torino. 

Reece et al. (2015) Campbell - Biologia e Genetica. Pearson Italia, Milano.



Oral exam and practical test of identification of zoological specimens.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


Teaching material available on-line


No obligation. Consultation of zoological specimens as a support for textbook study is recommended.

Course books

Course texts

De Bernardi et al. (2016) Zoologia. 2nd Edit. Idelson-Gnocchi Ed., Napoli( Vol. 1 Parte sistematica; Vol. 2 Parte generale).

or alternatively:

Reece et al. (2015) Campbell - La forma e la funzione negli animali/ Meccanismi dell'evoluzione e origini della diversità.  Pearson Italia, Milano.

Reference texts

Pough et al. (2014) Zoologia dei Vertebrati. Pearson Italia, Milano-Torino. 

Reece et al. (2015) Campbell - Biologia e Genetica. Pearson Italia, Milano.



Oral exam and practical test of identification of zoological specimens.


It is strongly recommended to examine zoological material, both macroscopical and microscopical, concerning the topics of the course, and available at the Didactic Biological Laboratory of Urbino University at the Scientific Campus as well as in Museum and  other University collections.

« back Last update: 22/10/2016


Questo contenuto ha risposto alla tua domanda?

Il tuo feedback è importante

Raccontaci la tua esperienza e aiutaci a migliorare questa pagina.

Se sei vittima di violenza o stalking chiama il 1522

Il 1522 è un servizio pubblico promosso dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri – Dipartimento per le Pari Opportunità. Il numero, gratuito è attivo 24 h su 24, accoglie con operatrici specializzate le richieste di aiuto e sostegno delle vittime di violenza e stalking.

Posta elettronica certificata



Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo
Via Aurelio Saffi, 2 – 61029 Urbino PU – IT
Partita IVA 00448830414 – Codice Fiscale 82002850418
2023 © Tutti i diritti sono riservati