Biology | Community Ecology
L579 | 31490 | Clay, K


Communities consist of resident populations of all species (e.g.
animals, plants, microbes) that coexist in the same place at the
same time. The field of community ecology seeks to understand the
distribution and abundance of species. Elucidating the processes
that give rise to these patterns requires an understanding of how
populations interact within communities, and with their abiotic
environment. The objectives of this course are to become familiar
with the main concepts and theories of community ecology (species
interactions, indirect interactions,  niche theory, community
assembly, null and neutral models, succession, trophic structure,
measures of diversity, diversity and stability, habitat
heterogeneity, island biogeography). In addition, community ecology
has important applications for agriculture and fisheries, biological
invasions, biological control of pests and conservation biology.

This course will consist of both lecture and discussion with an
emphasis on readings from classic and recent literature in community
ecology. The course assumes that students will have had some
exposure to general ecology. In general, Tuesdays will be devoted to
lectures and Thursdays to discussion. Electronic versions of all
assigned readings will be made available on Oncourse. Discussion of
readings will be led by students. There will be one required field
trip in October that will be arranged early in the semester.

There will be a mid-term and final exam. Each student will be
required to complete an independent class project. This project can
consist of one of the following four: review paper, grant proposal,
computer model, or empirical research project. In addition, all
students will be expected to lead and participate in discussions on
assigned readings.
The final grade will be based on the following:
20% Mid-term exam
30% Final exam
30% Independent project
20% Participation and discussion