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MB3260 - Ecological Dynamics: An Introduction to Modelling

Credit points: 3
Year: 2020
Student Contribution Band: Band 2
Administered by: College of Science and Engineering

This subject provides an introduction to the formulation, analysis, application, and critical evaluation of ecological models, with a focus on marine applications. Lectures examine how models connect particular ideas about how ecological systems work to fundamental concepts in ecological theory, and on critically evaluating how analyses of model ecological systems can inform our understanding of real ecological systems. Practicals emphasize applying ecological models to solve problems in biodiversity conservation and management. Topics covered include population dynamics and extinction risk; ecological stability and resilience; fisheries modelling; dispersal connectivity and marine reserves; species interactions; biodiversity; and trophic dynamics. This subject is appropriate for empirically-oriented students seeking a better understanding of the relevance of ecological modelling for their field and laboratory research, as well as for students interested in Honours or postgraduate work in ecological modelling.

Learning Outcomes

  • To formulate ecological models, by integrating information about ecological processes that occur on multiple scales, focusing on marine systems;
  • To analyse ecological models, in order to determine how fundamental concepts in ecological theory arise from particular sets of assumptions about how ecological systems work;
  • To judge the robustness of ecological concepts to the simplifying assumptions from which they have been derived;
  • To critically evaluate how the formulation and analysis of model ecological systems informs our understanding of real ecological systems in nature;
  • To apply the techniques of ecological modelling to solve core problems in conservation and management, particularly for marine systems.

Subject Assessment

  • end of semester exam (55%)
  • quizzes or tests (25%)
  • assignments (20%).
Students enrolling in this subject should have some university-level coursework in ecology (MB2060 OR BS2460 or BZ2440 or equivalent). Some university-level mathematics (MA1020 or MA1000 or equivalent) is recommended, but not essential.
MB5260, MB3269, BS5260, SC5502


Townsville, Internal, Study Period 2
Census Date 27-Aug-2020
Workload expectations:

The student workload for this 3 credit point subject is approximately 130 hours.

  • 26 hours lectures
  • 6 hours tutorials
  • 30 hours practicals
  • assessment and self-directed study

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.