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Population Ecology

Ecology is the study of interactions between organisms and between organisms and their environments. Population ecology is the subfield of ecology that identifies those ecological factors—in the community or in the ecosystem—that regulate a population’s size.Ecosystems and communities involve complex interactions that have evolved over long periods of time. The species that are present and the interactions we see between them are the result of evolution under the unique environmental pressure...

Topics: Biology
Cost: Free

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Description

Ecology is the study of interactions between organisms and between organisms and their environments. Population ecology is the subfield of ecology that identifies those ecological factors—in the community or in the ecosystem—that regulate a population’s size.Ecosystems and communities involve complex interactions that have evolved over long periods of time. The species that are present and the interactions we see between them are the result of evolution under the unique environmental pressures that exist in a given environment. These interactions may be delicately intertwined, such that the loss of a single species from a community could mean the collapse of the entire community in a domino effect. Thus, biologists are concerned with the preservation of biodiversity in ecosystems—retaining as many different species in the ecosystem as possible so the intricate relationships among species are preserved.In recent years, we have seen a decrease in the biodiversity of ecosystems. Human activities are largely to blame for this decline: Commercial fishing and harvesting of species for souvenirs have dramatically reduced the populations of many aquatic species; oil spills have damaged the environment and threatened the survival of aquatic and terrestrial species; and human introduction of nonnative species (“invasive species”) has led to the extinction of native species. The alteration of environments from their original states to farmland, shopping centers, or housing developments has resulted in the loss of habitats suitable for the species that originally lived in those environments and accounts for much of this loss of biodiversity.In this course, we will study interactions at the population level. In a broad sense, we are asking “How does a single-species group of individuals living in a given habitat (i.e., a population) manage to compete successfully with other species in order to obtain essential resources and yet not become so numerous that the population exceeds the habitat’s ability to support it?”We will learn about intrinsic population growth (i.e., growth without limiting factors) and discover how such growth can be quantified. We will also discuss the factors that prevent a population from realizing its intrinsic growth potential and how those factors can be quantified. Finally, we will apply our understanding of population ecology to determine a population’s current status and construct a management plan to maintain that population at a desired size.This course should prove particularly useful to those pursuing future study in epidemiology, behavior, wildlife management, evolution, or computational biology. It will provide a basis from which to understand complex ecological processes in a straightforward, quantifiable manner.

Details

  • Days of the Week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Level of Difficulty: All Levels
  • Size: One-on-One
  • Cost: Free
  • Institution: Saylor
  • Topics: Biology

Provider Overview

About Saylor: The mission of the Saylor Foundation is to make education freely available to all. Guided by the belief that technology has the potential to circumvent barriers that prevent many individuals from participating in traditional schooling models, the Foundation is committed to developing and advancing inventive and effective ways of harnessing technology in order to drive the cost of education down to zero

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