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 phenomena involving one or a few species to the structure and dynamics of whole communities.
Specific topics include population dynamics, life history traits and their evolution, density dependence and population regulation, species' persistence in fragmented landscapes, 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, mechanisms of coexistence, and the structure and stability of food web. We consider diverse approaches ranging from field experiments to mathematical theory and how they contribute to understanding population and community ecology and integrate basic and applied science perspectives. A two-hour weekly lab/discussion section includes both computer lab sessions focused on deepening understanding of ecological theory and discussions focused on primary literature.
This course is intended for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students in Biology, EEB, PitE, and SNRE.
Graded assignments include computer lab reports, problem sets, short essays, and a more comprehensive essay assigned on the last day of class. Students will also lead a discussion section and be expected to participate in discussions. Readings are from a textbook and primary literature (average of one to two journal articles per week).
There are three hours of lecture per week and two hours of lab/discussion. A GSI will run the computer lab sections and aid in discussions and in grading.