Winter School - Patterns of vegetation in water controlled ecosystems

Organizing institution: University of Padova

Period: 3 January 2016 - 9 january 2016
Location: Venice International University
Level: Phd level
Official language: English
Course leader:   Chiara Callegaro

                               Nadia Ursino

Scenarios of land use change, climate change, and natural resources commercialization at a global scale are threatening the most unstable and fragile ecosystems, such as the wide arid and semi-arid areas of Earth.
Understanding the eco hydrological equilibra that allow survival in such habitats helps us predict and prevent irreversible shifts, that could possibly affect microclimate and water balance in the adjacent areas.
Monitoring these areas through remote sensing and digital images analysis allows us to assess the health status and reveal the first symptoms of change.
Observing soil-vegetation-atmosphere mechanisms that allow vegetation growth and persistance even in water scarcity conditions gives quantitative indications on possible sustainable agricultural practices in water limited conditions.

We aim at establishing a shared platform, through the participation of expert international lecturers coming from various  research  fields,  that  will  commit  to  teaching  not  only  by  traditional  lectures  but  also  by  proposing scientific questions to be developed by small groups of students during the stay in San Servolo.

Four modules will focus on:

  1. Experimental analysis of soil and vegetation,
  2. Satellite images and data processing,
  3. Stability analysis of dynamical systems,
  4. Biological and mathematical modelling of ecosystems.


The course is open for 50 young researchers and  PhD candidates from various disciplines: ecology, hydrology, geography, soil science, biology, environmental science and engineering.
Participants should possibly have previous knowledge in mathematical biology, hydrological science, statistics.

Learn and critically reflect on processes and models for vegetation patterns.
Develop research on specific topics proposed by the lecturers
Discuss possible application for sustainable water management.

The course is intensive, with concentrate lectures in the morning and afternoon of the first 4 days, and  assignments, discussions and working groups in the last two days.