Spatial Ecology—Introductory Lectures

***=required reading



Once again, we begin with the classics before taking on the more modern approaches.


Lecture 1.  Patchy environments.

The first approach we have to looking at spatial questions is to begin with the classic work of Huffaker, and models of this work.  We will look first at the results of Huffaker’s system, and then develop models, in analogy to our work on epidemic modeling, that can be used to help understand these dynamics.  This work will set the basis for our future discussions of metapopulations.


Gurney, W.S.C. and Nisbet, R.M. 1978  Predator-Prey fluctuations in patchy environments.  J. Anim. Ecol. 47:85-102.

***Hastings, A. Spatial heterogeneity and the stability of predator-prey systems. Theor. Pop. Biol.; 1977, 12: 37-48.

***Huffaker C.B. Experimental studies on predation: dispersion factors and predator-prey oscillations. Hilgardia; 1958; 27:


Levin S.; R.T. Paine. Disturbance, patch formation, and community structure. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.; 1974; 71: 2744-2747.


Lecture 2.  Diffusion approaches – introduction. Our goal here will be to present the diffusion models as a way of expressing spatial structure and to explore the assumptions underlying the model.  The examples in Kareiva (1983) will be used to look at the adequacy of the model.  The use of the approach to ask other biological questions will be emphasized in future lectures.


Fisher, RA. The wave of advance of advantageous genes. Ann Eugen., Lond,; 1937; 7: 355-369,

Kareiva, P.  1983.  Local movement in herbivorous insects:  Applying a passive diffusion mdoel to mark-recapture field studies.

Kierstead, H.; L.B. Slobodkin. The size of water masses containing plankton bloom. J. Mar. Research; 1953; 12: 141-147.

***Levin, S.A. Dispersion and population interactions. Am. Nat.; 1974; 108: 207-228.

***Okubo A. Note: chapter 5 required, do not get caught up in mathematical details.

Skellam, J.G. Random dispersal in theoretical populations. Biometrika; 1951; 38: 196-218.