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The University of Southampton

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

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
  • How life history characteristics of different species contribute to their profiles of survival and fecundity
  • 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
  • The fundamental importance of insects to understanding population ecology and its links to community ecology
  • The relevance of bottom-up and top-down regulation to the concept of “why the world is green”
  • Applications of population ecology to integrated pest management


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.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

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

Practical classes and workshops24
Independent Study98
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. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Class practicals 10%
Class practicals 10%
Class practicals 10%
Examination 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Examination 70%

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