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Instructor: Alan Hastings 2-8116 e-mail: amhastings@ucdavis.edu

Office hours: Tue. 3-4, Thurs 3-4  3136 Wickson and by appointment

Course Format: 2 lectures per week Tue, Thur. 12:10-1:30   plus 1 hour discussion/computer lab period Wed 12:10 to 1:00 or Wed 9:00-9:50 

Texts: Population Biology: Concepts and Models by Alan Hastings & papers available from links below or will sent by e-mail 

Course Schedule


Homework and lab work: 50%

Final (takehome): 25%

Term paper: 25%

Course Philosophy

Course goals and style: This is a course that will emphasize models in a study of population ecology. In particular, model formulation, solution, and interpretation will form the major portion of the lecture material. A critical examination of assumptions of models will be stressed. The reading will in general emphasize more of the experimental and natural history aspects. This division is made primarily for pedagogical reasons.

I expect that after completing the course a student will have an understanding of the major conceptual issues in population ecology and the role of models in developing questions, and interpreting experimental results. Additionally, I expect that a student would be able to read critically a large portion of the papers involving models appearing in journals like THE AMERICAN NATURALIST. To achieve these goals, I will develop a number of mathematical tools in class.

I will use frequent homework assignments as an integral part of the course. Once per week we will meet in the computer lab.  We will use excel spreadsheets that have been developed expressly for the course where you simply have to enter numbers into forms.

Term paper:

The term paper will be due on the last day of classes by E-MAIL or in class (NO EXCEPTIONS), March 10, and can be on any topic related to the subject of the course. The format will be either i) an original piece of work, ii) a critical review of a single paper (e.g. Polasky (2012) in the reading), or iii) a synthesis of work in an area (e.g. Arlinghaus and Krause 2013 in the reading). The paper should have a length of 10-15 double spaced pages. An outline will be due on Feb. 11. One way to get ideas is to look at recent issues of American Naturalist, Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology or other journals (see list at end of this page). 

Any topic that is part of the course subject matter is fine.  You will be expected to demonstrate a good understanding of the topic you pick, and to write well.  

If you choose to do an original piece of work, you should either create and analyze a model or analyze data that explores some area of population biology.  

It is important to remember that a critical review of a single paper will draw upon ideas and aspects outside the paper under consideration, and that you will have to explain clearly the ideas in the paper as well as how they fit into a larger context, and any potential shortcomings, as well as why the paper is important and or interesting.

For the synthetic review, your term paper needs to be something where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts -- you need to present new ideas that come from putting several papers together.

As noted, the examples above should give you an idea of how to get started.

The outline will not be graded, but is an opportunity for me to give you feedback (and prevent you from waiting to the last minute).  I will send you an e-mail that you can respond to to provide the outline.  

If you have any questions, do ask! 



Tentative lecture outline for Environmental Science and Policy 121

Date Topic READING in text by Hastings Other Reading
JAN.5 Introduction/Exponential Growth 1-16 Kareiva, Peter
JAN. 7 Age structure I. 16-30
JAN. 12 Age structure II. 16-30 Congdon, Justin D., Arthur E. Dunham, and R.C. Van Loben Sels
JAN. 14 Age structure III. 30-37 Birch
JAN. 19 Pop. genetics I. 41-48 Kettlewell(1956)

Roughgarden, pg. 17-25

JAN. 21 Pop. genetics II. 48-68 Roughgarden, pg. 26-64
JAN. 26 Pop. genetics III. 68-73 Stumpf and Hilde M. Wilkinson-Herbots
JAN. 28 Pop. genetics IV. 73-76 Hamilton, W.D. and Robert M. May
FEB. 2 Logistic Models I. stability, equilibrium points 81-92
FEB. 4 Logistic Models II. 92-103 Costantino et al., 1997
FEB. 9 Life histories I. 107-110 Cole (1954) 
FEB. 11 Life histories II. 110-115 Schaffer, William M. and Paul F. Elson
FEB. 16 Two species models: Introduction. and Competition 119-140 Connell, Joseph H. and Wayne P. Sousa; Gause (browse through it)Park (1948) 
FEB. 18 Competition II. 140-147 Goldberg and Barton (1992)
FEB. 23 Predation I. 151-163 Gause

FEB 25 Predation II. 163-178 Luckinbill, Leo S
MAR. 1 Parasites and Parasitoids and diseases 181-188 Lafferty and Kuris (2002)


MAR. 3 Diseases 189-199 Keeling and Grenfell
MAR  8 Diseases


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PAPERS AVAILABLE ON THE WEB -- You'll need to access these from a computer with a UC Davis IP address or else use the proxy server at the library

1. Polasky, S. 2012. Economics: Conservation in the red. Nature 492:193-194

2. Arlinghaus, R. and J. Krause. 2013. Wisdom of the crowd and natural resource management. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 28:8-11.

3. Kareiva, Peter. Renewing the Dialogue between Theory and Experiments in Population Ecology. In: Roughgarden, J., R.M. May, S.A. Levin, eds. Perspectives in Ecological Theory, Princeton University Press (1989) (will be sent by e-mail).

4. Congdon, Justin D., Arthur E. Dunham, and R.C. Van Loben Sels. Delayed Sexual Maturity and Demographics of Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii): Implications for Conservation and Management of Long-Lived Organisms. Conservation Biology, Volume 7, No. 4, December 1993.

5. Costantino, R.F., R.A. Desharnais, J.M. Cushing, and B. Dennis.  Chaotic dynamics in an insect population.  Science 275: 389.391

6. Michael P. H. Stumpf and Hilde M. Wilkinson-Herbots.  2004. Allelic histories: positive selection on a HIV-resistance allele Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 19, Pages 166-168

7. Hamilton, W.D. and Robert M. May. Dispersal in stable habitats. Nature Vol. 269 13 October 1977.

8. Schaffer, William M. and Paul F. Elson. The adaptive significance of Variations In Life History Among Local Populations of Atlantic Salmon In North America. Ecology (1975) 56: pp. 577-590.

9. Connell, Joseph H. and Wayne P. Sousa. On the Evidence Needed to Judge Ecological Stability or Persistence. The American Naturalist Vol 121, No. 6 June 1983.

10. Goldberg, D.E. and A. M. Barton.  Patterns and consequences of interspecific competition in natural communities: a review of field experiments with plants. The American Naturalist Vol. 139, 771-801 

11. Luckinbill, Leo S. The Effects of Space and Enrichment on A Predator Prey System. Ecology (1974) 55: pp. 1142-1147.

12. Lafferty, KD and Kuris A.  2002 Trophic strategies, animal diversity and body size  Trends in ecology & evolution  vol: 17 pg: 507


M. J. Keeling and B. T. Grenfell (3 January 1997)Science 275 (5296), 65.

14.L. C. Birch  The Intrinsic Rate of Natural Increase of an Insect Population
Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 17, No. 1. (May, 1948), pp. 15-26.
15. Thomas Park Interspecies Competition in Populations of Trilobium confusum Duval and Trilobium castaneum Herbst
Ecological Monographs, Vol. 18, No. 2. (Apr., 1948), pp. 265-307.
16. Lamont C. Cole The Population Consequences of Life History Phenomena
Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 29, No. 2. (Jun., 1954), pp. 103-137.
17.  Ottar N. Bjørnstad and Bryan T. Grenfell.  2001.  Noisy Clockwork: Time Series Analysis of Population Fluctuations in Animals Science 27 July 2001; 293: 638-643




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Some interesting links

An interesting site with a course on population biology, run by Alexei Sharov


Journals in population biology and ecology (with most or all issues avaialable online from the library).  Note that this list is not complete.

American Naturalist

Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics  

Biodiversity Letters


Conservation Biology  

Diversity and Distributions

Ecological Applications  

Ecological Modelling

Ecological Monographs  


Ecology Letters


Frontiers in Ecology

Functional Ecology  

Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters  

Journal of Animal Ecology  

Journal of Applied Ecology  

Journal of Biogeography  

Journal of Ecology  

Journal of Tropical Ecology  

Limnology and Oceanography  

Population Ecology

Proceedings of the Royal Society, B

Quarterly Review of Biology

Theoretical Ecology

Theoretical Population Biology

Trends in Ecology & Evolution