Detailed Syllabus


Lecture Topic

Activities, discussion leader, and required readings


August 20

Introduction to course; Population growth and regulation  (PPT)

General syllabus

Reading the literature (pdf)

Review general ecology text on population growth and density-dependence or read Ch1&2 of Gotelli

Other useful resources:

--EcoEvoApps (web-based simulations for various ecological and evolutionary systems)

--Corrections and webapps for Community Ecology (Mittelbach and McGill)


August 25

Pop growth, continued

HW 1b (timescale issues: fluctuations in K)


Same as above

August 27

Demographic and environmental stochasticity and demographic heterogeneity (PPT);


go over HW1b

Homework 1 (Ricker analysis; due on day of next class before 9am)

same as above

A useful resource:

Global Population Dynamics Database (GPDD)

September 01

Stage-structured dynamics (PPT)

go over HW1

HW2 (Proj matrix)

September 03

Applications: Stage-structure Part II (PPT)

go over HW2

Class discussion: (led by Craig)

Vonesh and de la Cruz 2002 (pdf)

For this an all future readings, please email responses to these prompts by 9am the day of discussion:

1. What is the primary take-home message of the paper?

2. What is one issue/approach/question/confusion raised in the paper that you found "unsatisfying" or with which you disagreed?

3. Explain your answer to #2.

4. Identify one insight from the paper that changed your perspective about ecology?

Gotelli: Ch 4

Mittelbach and McGill - Ch 12 (pp 249-257)

September 08

Metapopulations  (PPT)

HW3 (metapop)

See previous class

A useful resource:

Matrix Database (COM(P)ADRE)

September 10

Metapopulations (cont.)

go over HW3

Class discussion -- Andrew, Brendan, Kiersten, Kyle, Momo

Peres et al. 2003 (PDF)


see above

September 15

Foraging theory  (PPT)

HW4 (source-sink & OFT)

Stephens and Krebs 1986 - Ch 2 (PDF)
Charnov 1976 (PDF)
Mittelbach and McGill - Ch 6

Ancillary readings:

Mittelbach 1981 (PDF)
Osenberg and Mittelbach 1989 (PDF)

September 17

Habitat quality, Cryptic density-dependence, Ideal Free Distribution  (PPT)

go over HW4

Class discussion -- Adam, Anecia, Carol, Phillip

Holmes et al 2020 (pdf)

Shima and Osenberg 2003 (PDF)

September 22

Evolution (PPT)


Drake (chapter); you also should review basics from other sources

September 24

Exam 1 (take it; grade it)

HW5 (pop gen)

None; but you should review basics from other resources.

September 29

Competition / Lotka-Volterra  (PPT)

go over HW5

Gotelli - Ch 5 (PDF) and/or Mittelbach and McGill - Ch 7

October 01

Resource-based competition  (PPT)

Class discussion -- Dan, Emily, Laura, TJ, Tucker

Johnston & Post 2009 (PDF)


Tilman 1982 - Ch 3 & 4 (PDF); and/or Mittelbach and McGill - Ch 7

Ancillary Reading: 

Tilman 1977 (PDF)

October 06

Competition Experiments (PPT) 


go over HW6


October 08

Predator-prey dynamics (PPT)

Class discussion -- Adam, Annakate, Alex, Dessa

Miller 1994 (PDF)

HW7 (pred-prey & phase planes)

Mittelbach and McGill - Ch 5

Ancillary reading: 

Gotelli - Ch 6 (PDF)


October 13

Predator-prey (data, additional factors) (PPT)

go over HW7

same as above

October 15

Coexistence mechanisms (PPT)


Class discussion -- Alyssa, Andrew, Anecia, Ridge

Arditi & Saiah 1992 (PDF) -- please also skim Arditi et al. 1991

HW8  (primary paper summary)

Mittelbach and McGill (Ch 8 (all) & 15 (pp 287-297)

Ancillary reading:

McPeek 2012 (PDF)

Tilman 1982 - Ch 5 (PDF)

Chesson 2000 (PDF)

Chesson 2008 (PDF)


October 20

Coexistence (continued)

go over HW8

same as above

October 22

Disease ecology (PPT)

Class discussion -- Brendan, Dessa, Laura, TJ

Tilman 1994 (PDF)

Drake chapter (PDF)

October 27

Exam 2 (take it; grade it)



October 29

Indirect effects and higher order interactions (PPT)

Class discussion -- Alex, Annakate, Dan, Kiesten

Davis et al. 2010 (PDF)


Mittelbach and McGill (pp 136-138; Ch 10 & 11)

Ancillary reading:

Wootton 1994 (PDF)

November 03

HSS, Oksanen, trophic cascades (PPT)

go over HW 9

Mittelbach - Ch 11 (PDF)

Ancillary reading:

Hairston et al 1960 (PDF)

Oksanen et al. 1981 (PDF)

Osenberg and Mittelbach 1996 (PDF)

November 05

Alternative stable states, tipping points, and phase shifts (PPT)

Class discussion -- Alyssa, Emily, Phillip, Ridge

Johnson and Hoverman 2012 (PDF)

HW10 (1pred-2prey dynamics)

Mittelbach - Ch 14 (PDF)

Ancillary reading:

Scheffer and Carpenter 2003 (PDF)

November 10

Biodiversity and ecosystem function  (PPT) -- NOT COVERED IN 2020 DUE TO TIME CONSTRAINTS

go over HW10

Mittelbach - Ch 2 & 3 (PDF)

November 12

Communities in space  (PPT)

Class discussion -- Carol, Kyle, Momo, Tucker

Frund et al 2013 (PDF)

HW11 (cool papers) & HW12 (exam questions)

Mittelbach - Ch 13 (PDF)

November 17

Metabolic Theory of Ecology (PPT)

Presentations of the "most interesting papers"  (HW11; PPT)

Brown et al. 2004 - MacArthur Address (PDF)


Brown et al. 2004 - Special Feature (responses to above paper) (PDF)

November 19


Presentations of the "most interesting papers"  (HW11; PPT) - continued


November 24


Review for Exam 3: discussion of student-defined problems (HW12; PPT)


Thanksgiving holiday

December 01


Review for Exam 3: (HW 12 continued)


December 03


Exam 3 (take it)  -- we'll handle this as we did Exam 2.


Links from past courses:

Independent Contrasts (PPT)

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