Theoretical Ecology

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Instructor Tad Dallas
Location Jones 214
Times T & TH 2:50pm - 4:05pm
Drop-in hours         Th from 1:00pm - 2:40pm

Course Overview:

This course will familiarize students with the central concepts of theoretical ecology, providing an underlying mathematical basis to the processes that govern natural systems. Emphasis will be placed on population and community ecology, exploring (mostly) discrete time models of population and community dynamics, with clear links to empirical data.


This course will use a flipped classroom model, with new material introduced in reading assignments from Case’s “Theoretical Ecology” textbook prior to class while class time will focus on applying these skills to explore interesting data sets. If you do not do the reading, you will quickly find yourself struggling to keep up. Students are expected to come to class with the conceptual background in the topic of the lecture, as the lectures will focus on skill-building and the analysis of biological data. Students will be expected to work collaboratively in and out of class, and course content and grading will emphasize communication and reproducibility of an analysis as much as scientific or technical completeness. That being said, there are numerous ways to programmatically solve the same problem, and I do not expect to see the same code from multiple people. The Course Syllabus provides an overview of the modules and topics covered as well as links to weekly reading, assignments, and any lecture material. This syllabus is preliminary and always subject to change.


Ted J Case. An Illustrated Guide to Theoretical Ecology. Oxford University Press. ISBN-10: 0195085124

Course design

This website was inspired by Carl Boetigger’s ESPM 157 course at UC Berkeley. Without his willingness to keep his course materials open access, and without the open source tools to build the website, this course would have to be created from scratch. The content would surely have suffered.