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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 year 1, to achieve a broad appreciation of current theory and practice in population and community ecology. Lectures and practicals will explore the processes involved in the dynamic functioning of both plant and animal populations and communities.

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
  • Understand the key traits of trophic cascades and food webs
  • Explain the processes determining community assembly and dynamics
  • Understand the application of population and community ecology theory to inform ecological management decisions


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. Community ecology, including assembly and dynamics of ecological communities; and real-world applications of population and community ecology.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

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

Independent Study98
Practical classes and workshops24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Rockwood, L. R. (2015). Introduction to Population Ecology. 

Krebs, C.J. (2013). Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Practical 25%
Practical 25%
Written assignment 25%
Written assignment 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 70%
Coursework 30%

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