Ecology Research Paper


Each student will complete a project summarizing their analysis of an ecological model. The project may involve (i) development of a new model, (ii) numerical investigation of the dynamics of an existing model (Populus would prove useful here), or a similar exercise. For most students, numerical verification of an ecological model’s properties will meet the minimal requirement. The project must be summarized in a ten-page document. The project report is due by the last class meeting: Wednesday, 9 December 2015.



1. Due Monday, 9 December 2015, the last class meeting.


2. Length: 10 pages plus references.


3. Objective: gain deeper understanding of the conceptual basis of population dynamics, by writing a coherent interpretation of a mathematical/computational study of an ecological question. Project should examine a quantitative question (or questions) about the growth, decline or interactions of ecological populations. Grading will reflect the extent to which this objective is achieved.


4. Methods: Most students investigate properties of an existing model via numerical evaluation of a hypothesis. One could develop a new model. Populus: software offers opportunities for numerical investigation of single populations, and interacting species. Project will report behavior of model(s), and interpret behavior. A straightforward approach varies two or more parameters of a model and notes the impact on extinction/persistence or equilibrium densities.


5. Example (assume Populus) Select topic: For example, discrete logistic, age-structured growth, infectious disease, or other population-dynamic process. You may choose to write your own equations in Populus’ “Interaction Engine.” Ask question of the model; be specific, effects of parameter(s) Run model repeatedly, using different parameter values. Save plots (to Populus folder) Analyze results; answer your question(s) Write the paper; include plots saved to validate interpretation. Edit the paper for repetitious text, grammar errors, misstated concepts, … 


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