BIOL 434 (Winter)

Theoretical Ecology

(Offered in alternate years: not offered in 2017-2018)

F. Guichard (Coordinator)
(514) 398-6464
3 credits (3-0-6)
BIOL 308, BIOL 309, or permission of instructor.
This course is intended for advanced undergraduate students at the 400 level. It aims to provide them with a strong general background in theoretical ecology to enable them to follow more specialized courses at the 500 and 600 levels. Lectures will cover major theoretical issues, concepts and models in ecology and the mathematical tools to analyze them. Readings and paper discussions will focus on theories that have influenced ecology historically, or that are currently under debate.

Topics and methods covered include:
  • Density-independent growth, projection matrices, eigenvalues and eigenvectors
  • Density-dependent growth, equilibria, limit cycles, and chaos in simple nonlinear systems
  • Competition and coexistence, graphical analysis and global stability of nonlinear systems
  • Dynamics of prey-predator and exploitation interactions, mathematical analysis of local stability in nonlinear systems, continuous and discrete-time models
  • Species diversity, deterministic and stochastic models of species abundance patterns
  • Spatial dynamics, spatial heterogeneity and coexistence, reaction-diffusion models
  • Temporal variability and nonequilibrium coexistence, time-varying dynamical systems
  • Direct and indirect interactions in ecosystems, community and inverse community matrices
  • Energy and material flows in ecosystems, compartment models, mass-balance constraints
  • Evolutionary ecology, adaptive dynamics, game theory, evolutionary stable strategies
An Illustrated Guide to Theoretical Ecology,  2000 T.J. Case. Oxford University Press, NY
3 hours lecture and discussion
Essay; midterm exam; final exam
Last update: March 22, 2017

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