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Courses : Syllabi : 710

Geography 710 Human Impacts Upon Mediterranean-type Shrublands & Heathlands


John O'Leary

Course Description

Objectives of this seminar are twofold: 1) to gain a basic understanding and appreciation of the fundamental characteristics of mediterranean-type shrublands and heathlands, and 2) to examine the effects of human impacts upon these ecosystem types. To meet these objectives we will focus initially upon characteristics of the physical environment, regional surveys of appropriate vegetation types, and their structural and functional properties. In the second part of the seminar we will examine various types of human impacts upon mediterranean-type shrublands and heathlands. The great bulk of assigned readings will be taken from the “core” references below. Additional readings will be taken from a variety of other sources. The student presentations and research papers will allow participants to investigate further some aspect of the seminar theme that they are particularly interested in. In doing so, each will gain a more in-depth understanding/appreciation of their topic than would otherwise be gained through the assigned readings.


Six units of upper division or graduate level courses in physical geography


Your grade in this course will be based on the following elements:

Books and Materials

Core References:

  1. DiCastri, F., Goodall, D.W. and Specht, R.L. (eds.). 1981. Ecosystems of the World 11: Mediterranean-type Shrublands. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co., Amsterdam.
  2. Specht, R.L. (ed.). 1979. Ecosystems of the World 9A: Heathlands and Related Shrublands. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co., Amsterdam.
  3. Groves, R.H. and DiCastri, F. (eds.). 1991. Biogeography of Mediterranean Invasions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. Rundel, P.W., Montenegro, G., and F.M. Jaksic (eds.). 1998. Landscape Disturbance and Biodiversity in Mediterranean-type Ecosystems. Springer-Verlag, Berlin
  5. Barbour, M.G., Keeler-Wolf, T., and Schoenherr, A.A. 2007. Terrestrial Vegetation of California. (3rd edition). University of California Press, Berkeley

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One Introduction: Mediterranean-type shrublands of the world
Week Two Regional Survey: Various Features of the vegetation of the Mediterranean Basin.
Heathlands and related shrublands of the world
Week Three South African Heathlands
Week Four Chaparral
Sage scrub
Week Five The matorral zone of central Chile
Week Six Mallee ecosystems in southern Australia
Heathlands of western Australia
Week Seven Mediterranean-type shrublands and heathlands: various functional aspects
Landscape disturbances in Mediterranean-type ecosystems: an overview
Week Eight Biogeography of Mediterranean Invasions (Introduction & Historical Background; Higher Plants)
Week Nine Biogeography of Mediterranean Invasions (Applied Aspects, Overview)
Week Ten No Class Meeting (Field Trip)
Week Eleven Topics to be selected
Week Twelve Topics to be selected
Week Thirteen Preparation week (no meeting)
Week Fourteen Student Presentations
Week Fifteen Student Presentations

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