The Ecologists of the Biology Department of Tor Vergata University work at LESA (Experimental Ecology and Aquaculture Laboratory), a detached center representing one of the first achievements of Rome’s second University in the green area allocated to the University Campus. Tor Vergata ecologists are principally specialists in aquatic biodiversity and address ecology issues at the various levels of biological organization, with the emphasis on marine and continental populations, communities and ecosystems. Also in the case of basic research, the Tor Vergata ecology school is strongly oriented towards the management and conservation of aquatic resources. The biology of fisheries and aquaculture, the study of benthonic communities, programmes aimed at the environmental restoration of marine phanerogams, the study of fish populations at risk and the effects of toxicity caused by human activities on aquatic organisms are all aspects linked to the relations between human activities and aquatic ecosystems to be conserved and exploited in a logic of sustainable development and safeguarding the future prospects of the blue economy. LESA is in full scientific and educational compliance with the principles of the Ecosystem Approach that, in the decisions made by the institutions and civil society, imposes the full integration between ecological knowledge and human activities. In setting up LESA the Tor Vergata Department of Biology was able to avail itself of laboratories for the study of the biological aspects in aquaculture of freshwater fish species.
These comprise tanks, closed circuits, and experimental aquaria. Following the same strategy, with a view to offering students on the job training opportunities in the same laboratory, circular outdoor tanks have been constructed together with an experimental pool and reconstructed wetlands for the purpose of phytodepuration and environmental restoration modeling.
As far as the biological study of sea- and land-based aquaculture is concerned, in view of the problems, costs and relative unreliability of small-scale experimental structures, Tor Vergata ecologists have built up a tradition of collaboration with actual production facilities (Acquacoltura Lampedusa, Valle Morosina, GhebboStorto, Piscicoltura del Golfo di Gaeta), and have contributed to the development of innovative technology, offering students training opportunities in the real business world.