Ecological Dynamics

Spring 2020
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter
Variable Credit Options Available

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Taught by

Carri LeRoy
freshwater ecology, quantitative biology, environmental education
Melissa Nivala

The study of ecological dynamics requires an understanding of calculus, modeling, and statistics. This program brings fields these together into an integrated learning opportunity.

Topics in General Ecology will include diversity, symbiosis, competition, biogeography, population ecology, predator-prey dynamics, behavioral ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, energy flow, nutrient cycling, conservation biology, ecological restoration, and global ecology. Topics in Statistics I and II will include probability, basic summary statistics, nonparametric, and parametric statistical methods. We will collect data in the field and use statistical methods to explore and explain patterns in the data. We will learn to create useful figures and interpret statistical findings.  

We will apply conceptual mathematics to general ecology principles to understand the theoretical basis of ecological patterns. Topics in Calculus will include limits, derivatives and optimization, as well as contextual applications to various ecological rates of change. In Mathematical Modeling, we will apply difference and ordinary differential equations to dynamical systems in ecology. We will learn how to predict long term behavior (stability and chaos theory) and analyze how various aspects of the system contribute to this behavior (parameter and bifurcation analysis). Tools in linear algebra will aid our study of age-structured populations, and the analysis of linear and nonlinear differential equations that arise in ecology. We will also use software as an aid to investigate numerical solutions to these equations.

Credit equivalencies in this program include General Ecology (4), Statistics I and II (4), Calculus I and II (4), and Mathematical Modeling (4). Students will have the opportunity to earn upper division credits in General Ecology and Mathematical Modeling and lower division credits in Statistics I and II and Calculus I and II. 

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

mathematics, statistics, ecology, biology


Credits per quarter
Variable Credit Options Available

Variable Credit Options:

Variable credit options may be available in consultation with the faculty.

Fields of study: 

This program will be quantitatively intensive and requires 2 quarters of pre-Calculus (including sinusoidal functions) as a prerequisite (high school pre-Calculus is sufficient). The study of General Ecology is upper division and requires that students have earned full-credit in both three (3) quarters of General Biology (>12 credits) and at least two (2) quarters of General Chemistry (>8 credits).

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Upper division science credit:

Up to eight upper division science credits in General Ecology and Mathematical Modeling.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 9:00 am
SEM 2 D2105 - Workshop

Located in: Olympia