Dynamics of natural populations - from individuals to ecosystems
What makes some species vulnerable to extinction while others rapidly invade new regions? How sensitive are different ecosystems to disturbance? In this course you will learn about processes acting at individual, population and ecosystem levels. You will learn to build simple computer models to assess the extinction risk of a species under different scenarios. Population genetics and other molecular methods are pivotal tools in modern ecology – in this class you will gain basic skills within these fields.
Initially, population ecology is treated with one or more species. We use models to describe population development, considering the environment, risk of extinction, and other factors. We also touch upon spatial structure and investigate how hunting and fishing affect a population.
During two weeks we study the function of two marine ecosystems, shallow eelgrass meadows and the pelagic ecosystem. We focus on processes and the importance of environmental factors, including human impact.
The theoretical part continues with population genetics, describing genetic variation, natural selection and gene flow, and the impact they have on populations. Conservation genetics is an important part and we provide information on molecular methods in ecology.
The course ends with a number of mini-projects where methods from the course are applied during a week's group work.