Theoretical Ecology 

Ecology 232, Theoretical Ecology, Winter 2016

Course Philosophy and Goals

In this course, I will strive to teach, rather than lecture. Thus adjustments will be made to the following outline, as not all the material fits into neat lectures. The object of the course is to gain an understanding of theoretical ecology, which I view as embodied in the formulation, solution, and interpretation of models. I feel that it easiest to get an appreciation for these steps by focussing on some of the simplest models, and therefore the first part of the course emphasizes 'classical' papers. I will supply exact details for the reading as we go on, and indicate a list of books on reserve for the course.  I  can certainly make adjustments to match your interests.

Course Requirements

There will be frequent homework assignments which will include all the aspects of theoretical ecology. There will be a take-home final exam. There is also a project required, with the subject area open, except that it must relate to theoretical ecology. An outline for the project is due on February 4, and the project is due in final form on March 10. The project will also include a 10-15 minute oral presentation (relatively ungraded) at the end of the quarter. Each component will count 1/3 of the final grade.

The project outline should give me enough information to provide feedback to you.  There should be key references.  I envision 2 kinds of projects:  the development of a model or theoretical approach, or the synthesis of literature in an area of theoretical ecology.  I will get more information to you.

Instructor: Alan Hastings, 3136A  Wickson 2-8116 email:amhastings at

SYLLABUS--note that the topics for lectures can be changed to accommodate student interests.   

 Tentative Lecture Outline
Date Title   Reading -- 
Jan 5 Introduction  Kareiva, P. pgs. 68-88 in Roughgarden et al., review of Gause's book
Jan 7 Stability  Lewontin, Connell and Sousa 
Jan 12 Time delays  May, Gurney and Nisbet
Jan 14 Age structure (density independent)  Leslie, Lotka
Jan 19 Two species Competition  Gause
Jan 21 Two species Predation (classical)  Gause 
Jan 26 Host-Parasitoid Models 
Jan 28 Basic Epidemiology  Kermack-McKendrick, Anderson
Feb.2 Spatial structure-intro  Huffaker,Hastings, Skellam 
Feb. 4 Diffusion equation and spread  Levin, Kareiva, Okubo, Andow et al. , Shigesada et al.
Feb. 9 Chaos and complex dynamics  Hastings et al. ; Ellner et al
Feb. 11 Regime shifts Boettiger etl al. Scheffer et al.
Feb. 16 Integro-difference approaches  Kot et al., Rees et al. 
Feb 18. Stochasticity and variability see link
Feb 23 Marine Reserves Gerber et al; Hastings and Botsford
Feb 25 Invasive species and management see link
Mar.1 Networks
see link
Mar 3,8,10 Oral Presentations


NOTE:  Reserve books will be at Shields library, papers will be typically sent to you as pdf's or links

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