Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 6 x 3h practicals
Lecture 30 x 1h lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Submitted in 6th week of semester  Practical Exercise: Continuous assessment of practicals  30%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   One 3-hour theory paper  70%
Supplementary Assessment 3 Hours   One 3-hour theory paper plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

On competion of the course the student should

  • be able to use the primary literature, including both theoretical and empirical studies, to expand knowledge of and interests in population and community biology
  • be able to comment critically on the major concepts in the subject area as defined above.


The course introduces at an elementary level, theoretical developments in population and community ecology, with theory related, where possible, to empirical studies. The need to assess the underlying assumptions of the models developed is emphasised throughout.


The subject addresses three main problems. What factors determine population abundance and changes in that abundance? What factors cause changes in the genetic composition of populations? What factors determine the number of species that can co-exist in a given area?

The population ecology component covers the following topics: estimation of population abundance, the construction and use of life tables, the concept of density dependence, life history theory, and population growth models emphasising the logistic model. The population dynamics of species with overlapping and non-overlapping generations are compared.

The use of genetic markers to define populations and to follow the dynamics of change in the genetic structure of populations is described.

The community ecology components discusses two-species models for predator-prey and competitive interactions, species diversity, food webs, and island biogeography. The relevance of community ecology for conservation is considered.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Begon, M. Townsend, C. & Harper, J (2005) Ecology 4th edition Backwell. Primo search Case, T.G. (2000) An illustrated guide to theoretical ecology Oxford University Press Primo search Cook, L.M., Callow, R.S. (1999) Genetic & Ecological diversity 2nd Stanley Thornes Primo search Krebs, C.J. (1994) Ecology Harper Collins. Primo search Ricklefs, R.E. & Miller, G.L. (1999) Ecology W.H. Freeman Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6