The course focuses on modelling as a convenient tool for the study of ecological dynamics, i.e., the interplay between organisms and their environment. The main emphasis is put on the understanding of the role of the dynamics of environmental factors and organisms in changing ecological processes, as well as on the analysis and solution to current ecological issues, such as the conservation of populations, sustainable harvesting and the regulation of ecosystem processes.
The teaching methodology is problem-oriented, research-based and learner-centered. Course participants develop published models with the help of a common software, under the guidance of course instructors. The concepts, techniques and practical tasks are all discussed in working groups during seminars.
The course includes the following parts:
Section 1, Methods, principles and concepts in ecological dynamics; 5 ECTS
This part gives a solid background in population and community theory from a process oriented, dynamic perspective. The focus is on how interactions between organisms drive the dynamics of ecological systems through feedbacks among various processes - often with unexpected results. The focus of this section is on the dynamics of interspecific interactions such as predation and competition and on how these interactions influence the coexistence of species, the size and stability of populations, as well as the flows of energy and matter through ecosystems. This section discusses the role of models in ecology and introduces how models are constructed, analysed and tested.
Section 2, Research project; 10 ECTS
Simultaneously, the students develop their own research project, starting from a published scientific article that models a natural systemin order to address questions of practical and theoretical importance. This work is of research-like character, because it aims to expand on the published model. The project includes the formulation of a question, literature search, model formulation and analysis, critical evaluation of results, and the writing of a formal essay. The work is also presented orally. Model analyses and formulations are carried out using Matlab, a modelling software whose use is widespread, both in the research and in the non-academic sectors.
90 ECTS Biology, including 30 ECTS Ecology. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English A (IELTS (Academic) with a minimum overall score of 5.5 and no individual score below 5.0. TOEFL PBT (Paper-based Test) with a minimum total score of 530 and a minimum TWE score of 4. TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) with a minimum total score of 72 and a minimum score of 17 on the Writing Section).
Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.
At the end of the course, for the grade Passed, the students are expected to be able to
1. Apply classical and novel ecological concepts and theories to characterise ecological interactions.
2. Construct dynamical mathematical models to meaningfully represent ecological concepts and theories.
3. Analyse and evaluate dynamical mathematical models and their predictions of interacting populations using analytic and numerical methods.
4. Evaluate the results from dynamical mathematical models with rspect to ecological theories and experimantal results.
5. Create original dynamical mathematical models in autonomy to address a non-covered practical or theoretical ecological problem and report the main contributions of the model in writing and orally.
At the end of the course, for the grade Passed with Distinction, the students are expected to be able to
6 Critical evaluate classical and modern ecological theories