This course examines the major themes in population and community ecology, across plants, animals and their interactions with each other and their environment. It focuses on cross-cutting themes in ecology and evolution including life history, predation, competition and disease and how these major components of ecology influence conservation and biodiversity. It begins by building deep theoretical understanding of life cycles, population growth, and species interactions. It moves to provide robust insight into common patterns and unique properties among plants and animals of the factors that determine the abundance, diversity and distribution of species. It provides insight into how species interactions and interactions between species and their environment drives biodiversity, the structure of communities and ecosystem function.
The course focuses on theory and data throughout, complemented by practical work providing skills in interpreting the literature, data analysis and modelling of populations. It uniquely has no exam, but four practicals (2 x computing, 1 x critical thinking, 1 x field) each with an assessment.
By the end of the unit, a student will be able to
• identify common and distinctive features of plant and animal life history;
• describe how populations are limited vs. regulated;
• evaluate the outcome of species interactions including predation, disease and competition;
• evaluate the relative importance of species interactions and of the environment to species abundance, distribution and diversity;
• interpret verbal and graphical models of population growth and species interactions with each other and their environment
• understand how mathematical models are used in ecology and conservation
DELIVERY METHOD: 27 lectures + 3 assessed problem solving practicals + 1 full afternoon field project
STUDENT CONTACT HOURS: 36
ASSESSMENT METHOD: 3 short project reports (60%) + 1 major project report (40%) + 1 quiz (10%)
FEEDBACK: Students will receive feedback on performance via the project report assessment, interaction in lectures and practicals and by arranging a meeting with your personal tutor at the start of the following Semester
Please go to MOLE for more information on APS 273