Theoretical Population Ecology (3) Theoretical discussions of demographics, population and metapopulation growth models, life histories, and species interactions such as competition, predation, host-parasitoid relationships.
BIOL 438 Theoretical Population Ecology (3)
At the present time our program has no theoretical and quantitative upper level ecology course. This course is designed to be a highly-quantitative second ecology course. It emphasizes mathematical and theoretical approaches to ecological questions and reinforces the theory with practical, hands-on field and laboratory exercises in which students are required to erect and test hypothesis using appropriate experimental and statistical techniques. The course builds on concepts from introductory ecology and requires students to use tools acquired in biostatistics and calculus to solve ecological problems. It can act as an introduction to or as an extension of experimental design. Although it is not a writing intensive course, students will be required to use standard technical writing and public speaking skills throughout the course. The course covers topics that are relevant to, but not addressed in, evolution and evolutionary genetics. In addition, it offers an opportunity for mathematics students interested in applications of mathematics to biological problems to apply models covered in mathematical modeling to real situations.
Throughout the semester analytical and theoretical thinking will be emphasized, starting with simple descriptions of population phenomena and ending with development of mathematical models and the critical experiments needed to test those models. The emphasis lies on empirical tests of ecological theory and applications of ecological theory to real-world problems. Students will be evaluated by means of essay exams covering theory, mathematical models, and the design of hypothetical experiments, in-class presentations of the primary ecological literature and applications of ecological theory to current environmental problems, and laboratory reports in which data collected during laboratory exercises will be analyzed and interpreted. Field exercises will be conducted on the campus of Penn State Erie and will take advantage of the rich natural environment on campus including numerous wetlands, streams, forests, and old fields.
This course will be available to all biology majors as elective credit at the 400 level. It also will be a core course requirement for any biology major taking the Ecology Option. It may function as a course for students seeking a minor in biology, particularly for mathematics majors.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.