Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Population and Community Ecology
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Report on community and population ecology practical.  4000 Words  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Essay paper  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resit report  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module. 4000 Words  40%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Resit exam  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  60%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Describe and discuss the conceptual models that are used to account for the distribution and abundance of organisms in natural systems.

2. Describe the evidence that underpins the models and to assess critically its value.

3 Apply appropriate methods to measure ecological characteristics, such as population size, population growth rate, community diversity.

Brief description

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


The subject addresses two main problems. What factors determine population abundance and the changes in that abundance in space and time? 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. Spatially explicit models introduce the concept of metapopulations.
The community ecology component discusses two-species models for predator-prey and competitive interactions. It develops these into the niche-based concept of community composition and examines the evidence for this view. It covers the factors affecting species diversity, including island biogeography and considers the functioning of food webs. The relevance of community ecology for conservation is considered.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number In completing practical workshops and assignments which require handling of numerical data.
Communication Report writing and presentation of the results of workshops.
Improving own Learning and Performance Through practice in independent learning and time management.
Information Technology Searching and accessing primary literature.
Personal Development and Career planning
Problem solving Through applying the principles of ecology, and through using workshop data to test specific hypotheses.
Research skills Reading primary literature and critical assessment of the value of sources.
Subject Specific Skills Through use of analytical techniques appropriate from ecological data.
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 6