This new course will provide the general background required in population and community ecology for undergraduates and graduate students who plan to pursue research in Ecology or Evolution. This course provides a more quantitative introduction to community ecology than the course previously available to students, EEB 497, "Community Ecology." This course will essentially replace EEB 481, "Population Dynamics."
Principles governing the phenomena of single and interacting populations are examined, from basic
tenets to cutting-edge research questions. Population and community-level perspectives are integrated
by drawing parallels between approaches and considering how to scale up from the phenomena of one
or a few species to the structure and dynamics of whole communities.
Specific topics include linear and nonlinear population dynamics, life history traits and their evolution, density dependence and population regulation, species' persistence in fragmented landscapes, as well as the basic models and concepts of interactions between two species (competition, mutualism, predator-prey and host-disease), and community-level topics such as the origins of diversity, patterns of diversity and relative abundance, and the structure and stability of food webs, and invasive species. We consider both fundamental and applied questions, and discuss both theoretical and empirical methods, emphasizing the mathematical modeling tools needed for a deep conceptual understanding. Population and community-level perspectives are integrated throughout by drawing parallels between the approaches used at these different levels of organization, and by considering how to scale from the phenomena of one or a few species up to the structure and dynamics of whole communities. At this scale transition theoretical models and empirical studies must lose detail to retain tractability, and as a result many exciting, central questions remain open for a creative new approach.
Intended audience: Advanced undergraduates majoring in Biology, PITe, Math or Applied Math, as well as students in other disciplines. It is expected that beginning graduate students in EEB and SNRE will also enroll.
Course Requirements: Lab reports (1-2 pages consisting of answers to specific questions about computer-based exercises); homework assignments; active participation in discussions; a short paper (1000-1500 words); and an exam (short answer questions, essay questions, and questions that involve applying mathematical models). The exam The reading assignments include reading from text books as well as on average one journal article per week (2 articles per discussion, but about half of the discussion sections are spent on computer labs and the other half on discussing papers).
Class Format: 3 hours of lecture per week and 2 hours of lab/discussion. GSIs will run the labs and aid in discussion with guidance from instructors. They will grade lab reports and homework and assist with grading exams.