Ecology is a branch of biology, studying the interactions between organisms and the environment. In this course, I will cover fundamental theories in ecology. Theory plays an important role in understanding ecological systems, but there is a GAP between theoretical and field research. I aim to narrow this gap through a series of lectures and paper discussions that are designed to link theoretical and field research. We will use R to better understand theory – I do not think just looking at equations enhances your understanding. Instead, I believe drawing figures and linking that experience to real-world examples (i.e., field research) will help understand ecological theories and concepts. Upon the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the roles of theory and observation in ecology
  • Explain basic ecological concepts, including population dynamics, metapopulations, competitive interactions, and food webs
  • Evaluate the primary literature in a manner that illustrates critical thinking about ecological questions


2.1 Course Introduction

2.2 Population Models

2.3 Competition

2.4 Metapopulation

2.5 Trophic Interactions

2.6 Food Chain Length