Detailed Syllabus


Lecture Topic

Activities, discussion leader, and required discussion readings


August 18

Introduction to course; Population growth and regulation  (PPT)

General syllabus

Reading the literature (pdf)

Homework 0 (timescale issues: fluctuations in K)

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 23

Pop growth, continued

go over HW0


same as above



August 25

Demographic and environmental stochasticity and demographic heterogeneity (PPT);


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

same as above

A useful resource:

Global Population Dynamics Database (GPDD)

August 30

Stage-structured dynamics (PPT)

go over HW1

September 01

Applications: Stage-structure Part II (PPT)

HW2 (Proj matrix)

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 to Craig and the Discussion leaders:

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 06

Metapopulations  (PPT)

go over HW2

See previous class

A useful resource:

Matrix Database (COM(P)ADRE)

September 08

Metabolic Theory of Ecology

HW3  (metapop)

Class discussion -- Discussion leaders: Camilla, Nathan, Colin

Peres et al. 2003 (PDF)

Brown et al. 2004 - MacArthur Address (PDF)


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

September 13

Foraging theory  (PPT)

go over HW3

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 15

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

HW4  (source-sink & OFT)

Class discussion -- Abbie, Erik, Sara

Fox et al 2017 (pdf)

Shima and Osenberg 2003 (PDF)

September 20 (Craig at LTER-ASM)

Evolution (PPT and video)

go over HW4


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

September 22

Exam 1 (take it) (Craig at LTER-ASM)

HW5  (pop gen)

None; but you should review basics from other resources.

September 27

Competition / Lotka-Volterra  (PPT)

go over HW5

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

September 29

Resource-based competition  (PPT)

Class discussion -- Carlos, Christian, Matt

Schuster et al 2021 (PDF)

HW6  (ZNGIs)

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

Ancillary Reading: 

Tilman 1977 (PDF)

October 04

Competition Experiments (PPT) 


go over HW6


October 06

Predator-prey dynamics (PPT)

Class discussion -- Kyle, Colin, Kelsey

Miller 1994 (PDF)

HW7  (pred-prey & phase planes)

Mittelbach and McGill - Ch 5

Ancillary reading: 

Gotelli - Ch 6 (PDF)


October 11

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

go over HW7

same as above

October 13

Coexistence mechanisms (PPT)


Class discussion -- Abbie, Jacob, Ching-Ting

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 18

Coexistence (continued)

go over HW8

same as above

October 20

Disease ecology (PPT)

Class discussion -- Nathan, Erik, Matt

Hu et al. 2022 (PDF)

Drake chapter (PDF)

October 25

Exam 2 (take it)



October 27

Indirect effects and higher order interactions (PPT)

Class discussion -- Sara, Christian

Davis et al. 2010 (PDF)


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

Ancillary reading:

Wootton 1994 (PDF)

November 01

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 03

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

Class discussion -- Carlos, Kelsey, Kyle

Johnson and Hoverman 2012 (PDF)

HW10 (1pred-2prey dynamics)

Mittelbach - Ch 14 (PDF)

Ancillary reading:

Scheffer and Carpenter 2003 (PDF)

November 08

Biodiversity and ecosystem function  (PPT)

go over HW10

Mittelbach - Ch 2 & 3 (PDF)

November 10

Communities in space  (PPT)

Class discussion -- Jacob, Ching-Ting, Camilla

Frund et al 2013 (PDF)

HW11 (cool papers) & HW12 (exam questions)

Mittelbach - Ch 13 (PDF)

November 15


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


November 17


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


November 22


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


Thanksgiving holiday

November 29


Review for Exam 3: (HW 12 continued)


December 01


Exam 3 (take it)


Links from past courses:

Independent Contrasts (PPT)

The webpage below here is still being updated....