APS 123 Population and Community Ecology

Level 1
Semester 2B
Credits 10
Teaching Staff Dr Andrew Beckerman, Dr David Edwards, Dr Gavin Thomas
Co-ordinator Dr Andrew Beckerman


This course is an introduction to the fundamental principles of population and community ecology and their applications in conservation. We consider ecology at different levels of complexity, from the individual and single populations through to food webs. We introduce basic concepts in life-history, population growth and the resilience and stability of populations. Interactions between hosts and parasites, predators and prey and competitors are discussed explored via theory, example and applicaiton. More complex communities and patterns of distribution are further examined, largely in the context of biodiversity and conservation where we cover food web complexity, species-area relationships and island biogeography and ultimately to the global scale, with patterns of diversity and abundance on linked to body size and latitudinal gradients. Interspersed are case studies on questions about diversity, economy and climate change, as well as a field based activity attempting to apply some of the concepts learned in lectures.

The module includes a 1 day field trip and ½ day lab session centred on collecting data related to biodiversity theory and producing graphs using tools from APS135.

Aims and Objectives

The unit aims to introduce various key theories and examples central to the ecology of individuals, populations and communities. It provides an understanding of how individual behaviour and interactions between individuals affect population and community dynamics and ultimately biodiversity at local and global scales. It provides an insight into the applications of ecological thinking to resource management and global challenges like biodiversity and climate change.

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the ecology of individuals, populations and communities. They will also understand how this ecological knowledge can be applied to the management of the environment and conservation.

DELIVERY METHOD: 16 lectures, 1 field trip, 1/2 day computer session, 1 practical


ASSESSMENT METHOD: 2 hour, multiple-choice examination
You are required to take the on-line self assessment test for APS123.

FEEDBACK: You will receive feedback via the online self-assessment test, on the field trip and during the ½ day computer session. You will also receive feedback on your performance in different sections of the multiple choice examination after the marks have been released.

Please go to MOLE for more information on APS 123

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