General Ecology Spring 2006

Course Syllabus- Prof. James Drake




Lecture Topic 
1. Introduction to Ecology 
		1.1 What is Ecology? 
		1.2 A graphical model of nature 
		1.3 Levels of organization-parts and wholes 
		1.4 Hierarchy and scale: how is nature put together 
	2. Population Processes 
        2.1 Characteristics of Populations 
     		2.1.1 Population traits 
     		2.1.2 Populations in space and time 
     			a. Local populations and extinction 
     			b. Metapopulations: adding space 
     		2.1.3 A primer of population genetics 
		2.2 Density-Independent Population Growth 
     		2.2.1 How do populations grow? 
     			a. Fast at first, but not for long 
     			b. Models and experiments 
     		2.2.2 The classic experiments 
		2.3 Density-Dependent Population Growth 
     		2.3.1 Limiting resources 
    		 	    a. Problems of exponential growth 
				    b. The carrying capacity 
     		2.3.2 The classic experiments 
     	2.4 Stochastic and Chaotic Dynamics - Funky Stuff 
     	2.5 Life History Considerations 
     		2.5.1 Survivorship 
     		2.5.2 Bookkeeping - life tables 
     	2.6 Selection of the Individual, Kin, and Group 				Exam 1 
3. Interspecific Interactions 

     	3.1 Competition 
     		3.1.1 Inter and intra-specific effects 
     		3.1.2 Limiting similarity and character displacement 
     			a. Hutchinson’s ratio 
				   b. Elton’s ratio 
     			c. Why don’t we necessarily see them? 
     			d. The role of disturbance in nature 
     		3.1.3 Theoretical formalisms 
     			a. Lotka-Volterra competition 
     			b. The phase space and R* 
     			c. Transitive and intransitive processes 
     			d. Apparent competition 
     			e. Ghosts of processes past 
     		3.1.4 The experiments 

        3.2 Predation 
     		3.2.1 Numerical and functional response 
     		3.2.2 Capture versus escape 
     			a. The Red Queen 
     			b. Foraging in space and time 
     			c. Economics of predation and species invasion 
     		3.2.3 Herbivory and plant defenses 
     			a. On the problem of being an herbivore 
     			b. Grazing, disturbance and diversity 
     		3.2.4 Direct and indirect effects 
     			a. Apparent competition revisited 
    			    b. Trophic cascades 
     		3.2.5 Theoretical concepts and experiments 
        3.4 Parasitism and Mutualism 
                3.4.1 Pollination systems 
                3.4.2 Dispersal 
                3.4.3 Parasites and parasitoids 
                3.4.4 Disease 								                              Exam 2 
     4. On the Nature of the Community 
     	4.1 What Are Communities? 

     	4.2 Structure at the Community Level 
     		 4.2.1 Emergent properties and self-organization 
     		 4.2.2 Measures of community structure 
     			 a. Relative abundance and the log-normal 
     			 b. Diversity and its meaning 
     			 c. Trophic structure 
     	4.3 Concepts of Stability and the Role of Disturbance 
                 4.3.1 Local and global criteria 
     	  	 4.3.2 Intermediate disturbance 
     	4.4 Successional Processes 
     		4.4.1 Will similar communities develop on similar sites? 
     		4.4.2 Attractors: fixed or variable? 
     		4.4.3 Facilitation and inhibition 
     	4.5 Constructing Nature 
     		4.5.1 Assembly rules 
     		4.5.2 Proximate cause and causality 
     		4.5.3 Alternative states 
     	4.6 Food Webs in Space and Time 
     		4.6.1 Statistical patterns 
     		4.6.2 Null Models 
     	4.7 Applications: Constructing & Restoring Nature 
     5.0 Ecosystems 
         5.1 Energy Flow 
                 5.1.1 Thermodynamics & Entropy 
    		 5.1.2 Primary production 
    		 5.1.3 Secondary production 
     	5.2 Nutrient Cycling 
     		5.2.1 Global connectivity 
     		5.2.2 Phosphorous, nitrogen and carbon 
     		5.3.3 Nutrient spiraling 
     	5.3 Global Climate 
     		5.3.1 Geologic trends 
     		5.3.2 Periodic phenomena 
        5.4 Landscape Ecology - Fractal What? 					         Final Exam