The University of Southampton
Courses

BIOL2004 Pure and Applied Population Ecology

Module Overview

This module builds on the basic principles of population ecology introduced in BIOL1003, to achieve a broad appreciation of current theory and practice. Lectures and practicals will explore the processes involved in the dynamic functioning of both plant and animal populations, particularly the natural regulation of their population sizes and the management of abundance.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to build on the basic principles of population ecology introduced in BIOL1003, to achieve a broad appreciation of current theory and practice. Lectures and practicals will explore the processes involved in the dynamic functioning of both plant and animal populations, particularly the natural regulation of their population sizes and the management of abundance.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Why living organisms grow exponentially, and the roles of intra-specific and inter-specific competition in population regulation
  • The relevance of bottom-up and top-down regulation to the concept of “why the world is green”
  • Scientific versus non-scientific issues of controlling pests
  • Dilemma of increasing realism (complexity) but decreasing tractability (ease of study)
  • How life history characteristics of different species contribute to their profiles of survival and fecundity
  • By the end of Section B: Multi-species population dynamics, you should know:
  • Why competition occurs, how heterogeneity stabilises species interactions, and why predator-prey interactions tend to cycle
  • Understand the basic predator-prey and parasite-host models (Lotka-Volterra, Nicholson-Bailey) and applications to disease dynamics
  • The key traits of trophic cascades and food webs
  • By the end of Section C: Population dynamics of invertebrates, you should know:
  • The fundamental importance of insects to understanding population ecology and its links to community ecology
  • Applications of population ecology to integrated pest management

Syllabus

The module has three sections: 1. Population dynamics of animals, including exponential growth and density dependence, life history strategies, regulation of abundance, functional and numerical responses, spatial organisation, dispersal and metapopulations; 2. Multi-species population dynamics, including interspecific competition and dynamics of species that use each other as a resource; 3. Population dynamics of invertebrates, including insects as models for population ecology, trophic interactions, control of invertebrate pests.

Special Features

For features such as field trips, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience. Practical work will develop observational skills and guide you towards authority in numerical analysis and sensible use of statistics.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning will involve lectures, field and lab practicals, analytical workshops, small-group discussions.

TypeHours
Independent Study98
Seminar2
Fieldwork3
Lecture23
Practical classes and workshops24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Krebs, C.J. (2009). Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance. 

Begon, M., Townsend, C.R & Harper, J.L. (2006). Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Class practicals 10%
Class practicals 10%
Examination 70%
In-class Test 10%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Examination 70%

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: BIOL1003 Ecology & Evolution 2016-17

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