Syllabus for Population and Community Ecology

Populations- och samhällsekologi

A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 15 credits
  • Course code: 1BG309
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Biology A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2007-03-15
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Revised: 2017-04-27
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: Autumn 2017
  • Entry requirements:

    150 credits including (1) 60 credits in biology and 30 credits in chemistry or 30 credits in earth science, or (2) 90 credits biology, in both cases including the intermediate course Ecology, 15 credits, or Limnology, 15 credits.

  • Responsible department: Biology Education Centre

Learning outcomes

The course intends to support advanced knowledge-building in ecological theory in population and community ecologytogether with skills in using mathematical models as tools to understand the development of populations and community ecology processes. After completing the course, the student should be able to

  • explain how and why one uses models in ecology
  • construct population models, identify equilibria, assess their stability and investigate how properties of equilibria depend on parameters (bifurcation analysis)
  • construct basic models of intraspecific interactions (density dependent population dynamics) and interspecific interactions (predatory-prey models, mechanisms for coexistence)
  • explain the application of stage and age structured population dynamics: demographic effects, effects of different life history strategies
  • apply the niche concept and alternative models (for example neutral theory) on biodiversity patterns and to evaluate the importance of species composition and diversity for population and community dynamics
  • assess the importance of interactions in food webs for the development of populations and communities, and evaluate the concepts of trophic dynamics, direct and indirect effects in food webs
  • explain the importance of spatial scale for interactions within and between populations and account for interactions between metapopulations and metacommunities
  • analyse ecological data and test hypotheses, critically review research results/theories and formulate new questions
  • communicate scientific results orally and in written form
  • identify and discuss aspects related to research ethics.


The course is based on the students' background knowledge of ecology from basic courses and provides a deeper knowledge of ecological theory. The course comprises a considerable part of group assignments stressing the planning of scientific investigations and the analysis of ecological data (computer simulations, numerical and statistical calculations) that are presented orally and in written form. The course gives skills in using mathematical and graphical models to analyse population and community processes and from these interpreting results and formulating new hypotheses.

The course includes training in evaluation and critical assessment of research results from a scientific as well as an ethical perspective. The emphasis is on obtaining insights about ecological processes using both theory and ecological data to solve problems relevant for ecological research and for practical applications within conservation and sustainable development.


The teaching is given in the form of lectures, , seminars, computer exercises, literature assignments and project work. Participation in seminars, computer exercises, literature assignment and project work is compulsory.


Modules: Theory 10 credits (written exam); exercises (computer-based laboratory sessions, group assignments) 5 credits.

The module exercises require active participation in computer-based laboratory sessions and group assignments and is followed up by oral and written presentations.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Autumn 2017

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Mittelbach, Gary George. Community ecology

    Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer Associates, c2012

    Find in the library

Last modified: 2022-04-26