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Course title Agroecology and environmental protection
Course code LauZ3175
Credit points (ECTS) 3
Total Hours in Course 81
Number of hours for lectures 32
Independent study hours 49
Date of course confirmation 26/02/2019
Responsible Unit Institute of Soil and Plant Science
Course developers
Dr. agr., asoc. prof. Jānis Gailis

There is no prerequisite knowledge required for this course
Course abstract
During the course, students learn the basics of ecology and environmental protection. Two thirds of the course are dedicated to various issues of ecology: composition of ecosystems, various processes inside ecosystems, environmental factors, adaptions of species for surviving in environment etc. One third of the course is dedicated to fundamental issues of environmental protection: basic regulations, polluting activities, protection zones, waste management, activities with hazardous chemicals, nature conservation. The course is designed for students learning agriculture, therefore all issues of ecology and environmental protection are dealt both from theoretical and practical point of view.
Learning outcomes and their assessment
Basic level knowledge on regularities of interactions between organisms and environment and on important issues of environmental protection in agriculture.
Skills to apply the acquired knowledge in the further study process learning the principles of plant and animal breeding and protection.
Competences to make practical decisions based on ecological principles and environmental quality standards and regulations.

Knowledge, skills and competences are assessed in three written tests during the study course and in the written final test.
Course Content(Calendar)
1. Introduction. Concepts “ecology” and “environmental protection”. Ecological thinking in agriculture. Classification of ecology according to its complexity. Fields of environmental protection. (2 lessons).
2. Biosphere, ecosystems and habitats. Biocenoses. Agroecosystems. Biomes. (2 lessons).
3. Circulation of energy and matter in ecosystem. Photosynthesis and respiration. Producers, consumers and destructors of ecosystem. Primary and secondary production. Food chain and food web. (2 lessons).
4. Abiotic, biotic and anthropogenic factors. How agroecological factors (agronomic activities) affect agroecosystems and environment. (2 lessons).
5. Environment and adaption. Ecological valence. Tolerance and optimum. Eurybiont and stenobiont organisms. Ecological niche. Heredity and environment. Natural and artificial selection. Development of resistance. Reproductive strategies. Plant secondary metabolism. Stealth and contrast, mimicry. Biology of pollination. Semiochemicals. Mikoryza. (4 lessons).
6. Population ecology. Subpopulations and metapopulation. Containment and regulation. Cyclic populations. Migration. (2 lessons).
7. Processes in ecosystems. Ecotoxicology. Primary and secondary succession. Introduction of species. Disturbances. Stability and productivity. Ecological islands and corridors. (2 lessons).
8. Environment and human culture. Human caused disturbances. Effect of forestry and agriculture on environment and ecosystems. Extinction of natural disturbances. Landscape changes. Floral and faunal changes. (2 lessons).
9. Nature of Latvia. Relief, soils and vegetation. Rivers, lakes and costal habitats. Forests, bogs, marshes, swamps and fens. (2 lessons).
10. Regulations of environmental protection. Law on environmental protection. Law on chemicals. Law on pollution. Packaging law. Law on natural resource tax. Law on protection zones, Species and habitats protection law. Rules of the Cabinet of Ministers. (2 lessons).
11. History of environmental protection. Governmental and nongovernmental environmental protection organizations, their objectives and tasks. Environmental quality criteria. Ecological footprint. Eco-design of products. (2 lessons).
12. Pollution activities in agriculture. Point source and nonpoint source pollution. Effect of pollution activities on environment. Commercial activities in protection zones. (2 lessons).
13. Hazardous chemicals in agriculture. Classification and marking of hazardous chemicals. Plant protection products. Safety data sheets of chemical substances and chemical products. Safe storage, handling and utilization of chemicals. (2 lessons).
14. Waste, its classification, sorting, storage and utilization. Types of hazardous waste. Properties making waste hazardous. (2 lessons).
15. Nature protection. Levels of nature protection. Particularly protected nature territories and micro-reserves. Biologically valuable grasslands. Agriculture inside nature protection areas – restrictions and opportunities. (2 lessons).
Requirements for awarding credit points
Successfully accomplished (the grade is at least four) final test. According to the contents of the study course, two thirds of the questions are about agroecology topics, but one third – about environmental protection topics.
Description of the organization and tasks of students’ independent work
Students’ independent work is not planed.
Criteria for Evaluating Learning Outcomes
In the tests, students must provide written answers to the questions. Depending on the complexity of the question, it is possible to get 1-5 points for the correct answer. If the question is answered partially correctly, then the student receives a reduced number of points for answering the respective question. In total, it is possible for a student to get 50 points in each test.

In the final test, students must provide written answers to similar questions as in the tests. However, the number of questions is higher and students can get 150 points for answering all the questions.

Grade of the written tests and the final test depends on percentage of the earned points:
98…100% – 10 (excellent);
90…97% – 9 (very well);
80…89% – 8 (very good);
70…79% – 7 (good);
60…69% – 6 (almost good);
50…59% – 5 (average);
40…49% – 4 (almost average);
30…39% – 3 (weak);
20…29% – 2 (very weak);
<20% – 1 (very, very weak).
Compulsory reading
1. Cunningham W.P., Cunningham M.A. Environmental science: a global concern. 11th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. 616 p. (ISBN 9780070171671).
2. Melecis V. Ekoloģija. Rīga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds, 2011. 350 lpp. (ISBN 9789984454221).
3. Molles M.C., Cahill J.F. Ecology: concepts & applications. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2008. 642 p. (ISBN 9780070963412).
4. Smith T.M., Smith R.L. Elements of ecology. 7th ed. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2009. 649 p. (ISBN 9780321559579).
5. Švarcbahs J. Ekoloģija un vides aizsardzība: mācību līdzeklis. Jelgava: LLU, 2006. 225 lpp.
Further reading
1. Agrovides pasākumi Baltijas jūras reģionā. Autoru kolektīvs. Sast. A. Briedis. Ozolnieki: LLKC, 2013. 200 lpp. (ISBN 978-9934-8248-2-1).
2. Kļaviņš M. Vides piesārņojums un tā iedarbība. Rīga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds, 2012. 199 lpp. (ISBN 9789984454467).
3. Pleijels H. Ekoloģijas grāmata: ievads ekoloģijas pamatos. Rīga: LU Ekoloģiskā centra apgāds "Vide", 1993. 96 lpp. (ISBN 9984500047).
4. Turka I. Pesticīdi un vide. Latvijas Lauksaimniecības konsultāciju un izglītības atbalsta centrs. Ozolnieki, 2000. 35 lpp.
5. Turka I. Pesticīdu lietošanas riski augu aizsardzībā. LR Zemkopības ministrija. Rīga: 2003. 159 lpp.
6. Vides aizsardzības likums: LR likums. Stājas spēkā: 29.11.2006. Rīga: Pieņemts 02.11.2006. [Skatīts 11.03.2019.]. Pieejams:
7. Sugu un biotopu aizsardzības likums: LR likums. Pieņemts 16.03.2000. Stājas spēkā 19.04.2000. Rīga: 16.03.2000. [skatīts 11.03.2019.]. Pieejams:
8. Aizsargjoslu likums: LR likums. Pieņemts 05.02.1997. Stājas spēkā 11.03.1997. Rīga: 05.02.1997. [Skatīts 11.03.2019.]. Pieejams:
Periodicals and other sources
1. Journal of Applied Ecology. [tiešsaiste]. British Ecological Society. Online ISSN: 1365-2664. [Skatīts 23.02.2019.]. Pieejams:
2. Vides Vēstis. Vides aizsardzības kluba žurnāls. ISSN 1407-2939 Pieejams:
Mandatory course of Professional Bachelor Study Program “Agriculture”.