Syllabus: Quantitative Population Ecology

Instructor: Alexei Sharov Price Hall, 301B, (540) 231-7316;


Ent-6254. (Index 2368-2369) Population Modeling of Insect Systems (Spring 1997) (2H, 3L, 3C). II. Lec: 9:00-9:50am-M W; Lab: 2:00-4:50pm-W; Price 301A
The lecture course is designed for graduate students specializing in biological disciplines with emphasis in ecology. The course includes 2 lectures and 1 computer lab per week (3 credit hours). I encourage students from various departments (Biology, Entomology, Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, and Forestry) to take this course because the principles of quantitative population analysis are similar in these disciplines.

Major topics are: structure and dynamics of population systems, population demography, sampling, life-tables, temperature-dependent development, predation, competition, dispersal, population stability and pest outbreaks. The course covers contemporary topics in population ecology such as chaos in population dynamics, spatial processes, catastrophe theory, application of geostatistics, etc. Also, it gives intensive practice of using computers for solving quantitative problems in biology. Computer labs are based on Microsoft Excel software. Lab reports should be prepared in Microsoft Word.

Course Objectives:

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to explain the structure and functioning of population systems, to develop simple population models using Excel software, to interpret the results of model analysis, to use models in applied biology, and to write a scientific report in the area of population ecology.


Prerequisites include statistics (or biometry), and general ecology. The students should be familiar with descriptive statistics, confidence intervals, linear and non-linear regression analysis. From elementary calculus (it is a pre-requisite for statistics) students should know matrix operations and differential equations. From principles of ecology, it is necessary to know the types of interactions between organisms, trophic levels. Besides that, an experience with personal computers is required (PC or MAC): word processing, graphics software. Scientific calculators are required on lectures and labs

Grading Criteria

Mid-term exam (open book) 13%
Final exam (open book) 15%
Lab reports (6) 60% (each report = 10%)
Problem solving 10%
Total 100%
Exam format: combination of 1) multiple-choice questions, 2) problems, and 3) questions that require written answers.



Hastings, A. 1997. Population Biology. Concepts and Models. Springer-Verlag, New York.

Optional textbooks:

Begon M., Mortimer M. 1981. Population ecology: a unified study of animals and plants. Blackwell, Oxford.
Berryman, A.A. 1981. Population Systems: A General Introduction. Plenum Press, New York.
Caughley, G. 1978. Analysis of vertebrate populations. John Wiley, Chichester.
Goodenough L.J. and McKinion, J.M. 1992. Basics of Insect Modelling. American Soc. of Agric. Engineers, St. Joseph (MI).
Hutchinson, G.E. 1978. An introduction to population ecology. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven.
Jeffers J.N.R. 1978. An introduction to systems analysis: with ecological applications. Edward Arnold, London.
Logan, J.A. and Hain, F.P. (eds.) 1991. Chaos and insect ecology. VPI&SU, Blacksburg.
Maynard Smith J. 1974. Models in ecology. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.
Pedigo, L.P. 1989. Entomology and pest management. Macmillan, New York.
Pielou, E.C. 1976. Population and community ecology. Gordon and Breach Sci. Publ. New York.

Renshaw E. 1991. Modelling populations in space and time. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.
Royama, T. 1992. Analytical population dynamics. Chapman and Hall, New York.
Southwood, T.R.E. 1978. Ecological methods with special reference to the study of insect populations. Chapman and Hall, New York.
Varley, G.C., Gradwell, G.R., and Hassell, M.P. 1973. Insect population ecology: an analytical approach. Blackwell, Oxford.

Alexei Sharov 9/9/96