BIOL 590 (Winter)

Linking Community and Ecosystem Ecology

(given in alternate years: Not offered in 2014-2015)

3 credits (3-0-6)
BIOL 434 or permission of instructor.
This course is intended for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. It aims to provide theoretical foundations for a new ecological synthesis that merges the perspectives of population, community, evolutionary and ecosystem ecology. Its focus will be neither on pure community ecology nor on pure ecosystem ecology, but instead on how to link the two ecological subdisciplines to develop a new understanding of complex ecological systems. Its focus will be on theory in interaction with experimental and empirical work. It will be based on lectures and discussions covering current topics at the interface between community and ecosystem ecology. 

These topics include:
  • Principles of population and ecosystem approaches in ecology. How to build models that integrate the two perspectives.
  • The maintenance and functional consequences of species diversity in competitive communities.  Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning.
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem stability: revisiting the old stability-complexity debate.
  • Merging food webs, interaction networks, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.
  • Spatial processes across systems, and the joint dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystem processes at landscape to regional scales.
  • Indirect interactions and the evolution of ecosystems and ecosystem properties. Is the ecosystem a level of selection?
From Populations to Ecosystems by Loreau (2010)and selected papers.
A series of 3 hours of lecture + discussion or 3 hours of discussion on book chapters and selected papers.

Participation during class discussions; oral report; written report.

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

Last update: April 7, 2014