Review of On-line Lecture Course
Quantitative Population Ecology

This review appeared in the Plant Pathology Internet Guide Book as a "Tip of the month", August 1997

Quantitative Population Ecology, by A. Sharov, Dept. of Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA.

True online lectures for quantitative population ecology in 13 chapters including Population systems and their components (1), Spatial distribution of organisms (3), Statistical analysis of population dynamics (4), Predators, Parasites, and Pathogens (10), Competition and Cooperation (11), Dispersal and spatial dynamics (12), or Population outbreaks (13). A lab section (including Parasitism and Biological Control) completed this resource. All chapters come with examples to explain the theoretical models.

Each chapter is extremly well organized and useful. The text is accompanied by many figures and downloadable files. This site is an absolute must for all teaching Population Ecology or students learning it, but it should also not be missed by anybody else.

Summary: Highly recommendable, very useful education resource! It is featured as a TIP in section "Teaching, Education & Courses" of PPIGB.

See the Readers's Review of this Website (below).

Teaching, Education & Courses:

Quantitative Population Ecology

reviewed by Dr. S. Vidal (15 August 1997)

The web site Quantitative Population Ecology, maintained by Alexei Sharov at the Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, containes 13 lecture handouts and 8 labs designed for a course of graduate students with low level prerequisites in statistics and ecology. Beginning with a brief introduction and definitions on population ecolgy, the following chapters describe the methods to census population densities and sizes. This is essential, because without a sound method of sampling all analytical models on the population dynamics will be worthless. Thereafter, the methods to analyse statistically population dynamics, the growth of reproducing populations or life tables are introduced. With this tools the students should be able to develop a simple Leslie model. The understading of predator-prey models or the host-pathogen model is essential for biological control programs; however the shortcomings and extensions of the models are also mentioned. One lecture covers the recently developed extensions of local population dynamics, the spatial processes of populations, the diffusion models or metapopulation models. The incorporation of these models will add a new dimension to the understanding of population regulation (see for example J Roland & PD Taylor, Nature 386: 710-713). Everyone, who is interested in the question, why population outbreaks occurr, should read the final lecture on the mechanisms of outbreaks and the underlying models and assumtions. Although huge steps are made to understand the population dynamics of eruptive populations since the very beginning, several questions remain unanswered.

The chapters cover, although in a very abbreviated form, all basic models presently discussed in population ecology and end with several questions on the topics for the readers or students to reconsider the problems again. The presentation of the text and the figures is informative and allows a clear view. The web side created by A. Sharov is a state of the art introduction in population ecology and is a must for those who are interested in population ecology. Moreover it is highly recommended for plant pathologists who want to know something about what is going on in this branch of biology.

Dr. Stefan Vidal
Institut for Plant Diseases and Plant Protection
University of Hanover
Herrenhaeuser Str. 2
D - 30419 Hannover

Tel: + 49 511 762 2643
Fax: + 49 511 762 3015