In this first of two lectures on population ecology, Dr. Bill Fagan frames the key theories and methods used in population ecology. He presents as foundational issues in population ecology the relationships among individuals in a population and the dynamics that impact growth or decline within a population. He notes that population dynamics can be characterized by the null hypothesis of exponential population growth, and any other dynamics can be explained by the impact of factors like cooperation, competition, inter-species interactions, and resource limitations. He highlights the concepts used to characterize these factors, including discrete time models, the Allee effect, positive and negative density dependence, and carrying capacity. He concludes by noting the data challenges associated with modeling density dependence in a population and also notes that population dynamics and the factors that influence those dynamics will change over space and time for a given population.
Karieva, P., Mullen, A., and Southwood, R. 1990. Population dynamics in spatially complex environments. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 330(1257), 175–190.
Bill Fagan is Professor and Chair of the Biology Department at the University of Maryland. He received an Honors BA from the University of Delaware (1992) and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington (1996), and then did a postdoc at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. His research, which emphasizes the interplay between data and theory, sits at the interface of mathematics and biology, where he has worked on a wide range of ecological topics with many collaborators from diverse fields. An elected Fellow of both the Ecological Society of America and the AAAS, he also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Presidential Award of the American Society of Naturalists. Over his career, he has worked on a variety of projects in spatial ecology, quantitative conservation biology, and ecological stoichiometry (which focuses on the elemental balances underlying protein evolution, population growth, and species interactions).