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Dynamics of Natural Populations - From Individuals to Ecosystems



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-31 - 2020-11-02
Cost 29 750 SEK

What makes some species vulnerable to extinction while others rapidly invade new regions? How sensitive are different ecosystems to disturbance? In this course you will learn about processes acting at individual, population and ecosystem levels. You will learn to build simple computer models to assess the extinction risk of a species under different scenarios. Population genetics and other molecular methods are pivotal tools in modern ecology – in this class you will gain basic skills within these fields. Important practical segments of the course are given at the research stations Kristineberg and Tjärnö.

Initially, population ecology is treated with one or more species. We use models to describe population development, considering the environment, risk of extinction,and other factors. We also touch upon spatial structure and investigate how hunting and fishing affect a population.

During two weeks we study the function of two marine ecosystems, shallow eel grass meadows and the pelagic ecosystem. We focus on processes and the importance of environmental factors, including human impact.

The theoretical part continues with population genetics, describing genetic variation,natural selection and gene flow, and the impact they have on populations. Conservation genetics is an important part and we provide information on molecular methods in ecology.

The course ends with a number of mini-projects where methods from the course are applied during a week's group work.


Admission to the course requires one of the following options: 1) Approved basic courses BIO900, Cell Biology 15 credits, BIO905, Molecular Genetics, 15 credits, BIO910, Biological Form and Function, 15 credits, BIO915, Ecology and Evolution, 15 credits, and BIO920 Biodiversity and Systematics. At least 60 of the 75 credits must be passed. 2) Approved courses (MAR101-112+NTH001) within the first and second year of the Bachelor program in Marine science. At least 90 of the 120 credits must be passed. 3) Approved Biology, Basic Course, 60 ccredits. At least 45 of the 60 credits must be passed 4) Approved ES1201, Environmental Sciences: Natural Science, 15 credits, ES1300, Natural Resources Management, 15 credits, ES1305, Pollutants effects and dispersal on Biological Systems, 15 credits, BIO915, Ecology and Evolution 15 credits, and have read and approved at least one of the following four courses: BIO900, Cell Biology, 15 credits, BIO905, Molecular Genetics, 15 credits, BIO910, Biological Form and Function, 15 credits and BIO920, and Biodiversity and Systematics, 15 credits. At least 60 of the 75 credits must be passed.

Grant opportunities

EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees. More information on:

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • After a completed course, the student is expected to be able to state: key concepts of population estimation and growth, intra- and interspecies competition, predator-prey dynamics, meta population dynamics and extinction risk
  • the basics of population genetic processes and how these can be used in ecology and preservation
  • determinants of ecosystem structure, function and dynamics, including how humans may disturb the systems

Competence and skills

  • use established field- and laboratory methods to accurately quantify populations and ecosystem components
  • use models of population growth, basic life tables and simple matrix models
  • apply methods to study ecosystem structure and function
  • apply and evaluate population genetic methods
  • demonstrate skills in searching and critically evaluating scientific literature relevant for the course content

Judgement and approach

  • be able to evaluate status of populations and ecosystems based on own collected data and the literature
  • be able to place own data in the larger context of published studies.
  • judge how the ecosystem approach can be used in the management of populations and ecosystems

The course is sustainability-focused, which means that at least one of the learning outcomes clearly shows that the course content meets at least one of the University of Gothenburg’s confirmed sustainability criteria. The content also constitutes the course's main focus.


ISCED Categories

Scientific modelling