Population Ecology


Fall Semester 2015

Wednesday 9:15-12AM at AMNH
in the Ornithology Classroom

for information on last minute changes and such check for messages at 212.769.5793 or email rfrockwell@gmail.com

This course meets in a secure area of the American Museum of Natural History.  Until I can arrange access for each student, please go to the Security Desk at the Central Park West entrance no later than 9:00 AM.  We will meet you there and go to the classroom.  Thanks!



Among other things, the Population Ecology course will examine:

growth dynamics of single and multi-age class populations

why stochastic growth is always less than deterministic growth (the Lake Woebegone problem)

transient dynamics and momentum

why periodic matrices are superior to annual ones

elasticity and the importance of being Ernestine

competition and why coexistence is likely in the real world

predation, herbivory and whether tolerance is dynamically superior to resistance

metapopulations and why they go down the drain when the sink is too deep

The first class meeting is September 2, 2015. Since it will meet in a non-public area of the American Museum, please meet at the 1st floor security entrance (under the steps on Central Park West) before 9:00 AM.


Date Topic Chapter
09/02 Introduction and Abundance  
09/09 Exponential and geometric growth
09/16 Density-dependent models of continuous and discrete-time population growth 2
09/23 no class
09/30 Age and stage structured models – the basics 3
10/07 Age and stage structured models – adding complexity with stochasticity and density-dependence 3
10/14 Age and stage structured models – transients, momentum and even more complexity 3
10/21 Sensitivity and elasticity analyses of population growth 3
10/28 Metapopulation dynamics 4
11/04 Spectacled eiders – a case study  
11/11 Competition 5
11/18 Predation
11/25 Turkey break
12/02 Island Biogeography; Ecological Succession
12/10 to be announced

 Reading are from NJ Gotelli. 2008. A Primer of Ecology, 4th Edition, Sinauer, Sunderland.

Your grade in this course will be based on a combination of class participation and the quality of a "no more than 5 page" essay with at least 10 post-2003 citations that examines how one of the lecture topics (or portion thereof) is crucial to modern conservation or managment efforts. An electronic version of the essay - in a format compatible with WORD (Office Professional 2003) - is due before 12/16/15 by 12 noon.

Hal Caswell has written agreat paper on prospective and retrospective analyses linked here.

Rockwell's thoughts on transient dynamics can be found here.

Two interesting papers on transient dynamics and momentum can be found here.

Two new papers by Hal Caswell on fundamentals of demography can be found here and here.

last revised 05/20/15

Course Goals

1. Examine the differences between continuous and discrete time models.
2. Examine the effects of density on model projections.
3. Examine the effects of age and stage structure on population dynamics.
4. Explore the effects of transients and momentum on populations.
5. Examine the use of sensitivity and elasticity in model evaluation.
6. Come to grips with the unlikelihood of equilibrium states.


CUNY Required Statement on Academic Integrity

The CUNY Policy on plagiarism says the following about plagiarism (the CUNY Policy can be found in Appendix B.3 of the CCNY Undergraduate Bulletin 2007 -2009):

"Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. The following are some examples of plagiarism, but by no means is it an exhaustive list:

1. Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their source.

2. Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the source. 3. Using information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the source.

4. Failing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments.

5. Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting and pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.

The City College Faculty Senate has approved a procedure for addressing violations of academic integrity, which can also be found in Appendix B.3 of the CCNY Undergraduate Bulletin.”

Be aware that if we suspect plagiarism we will follow this procedure, no exceptions made; i.e. we will report you to the Academic Integrity Official. Disciplinary sanctions range from failing the class to expulsion from the college.

For more information: http://web.cuny.edu/academics/info-central/policies/academic-integrity.pdf