Time & Location

Lab: 9:00-11:00 M (407 Lewis Hall)
Lecture: 12:40-1:30 T, Th (407 Lewis Hall)

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with philosophy, theory, and methods of making valid inferences about animal populations using empirical data collected from studies of animals and their habitats.  The course focuses on theory and methods of sampling and analysis that can be used to

  1. provide reliable estimates of population parameters,
  2. provide valid measures of precision for estimates, and 
  3. relate parameter estimates to covariates of interest.

Analyses and inferences will be based on development and evaluation of competing models that represent hypotheses concerning patterns in the observed data and, when possible, processes that yielded the observed data.  Thus, the course will seek to give students a better understanding of:

  1. model development and selection,
  2. how to make valid inferences,
  3. the importance of underlying assumptions of various methods, and 
  4. current methods, computer-software packages, and literature related to various types of analyses of population and habitat data.

After completing the course students should be better prepared to judge the quality of results and conclusions of population and habitat studies.


Grades will be based upon 2 exams (1 given during the term (100 pts) and a cumulative final exam (150 pts) and 12 lab assignments (10 pts each). If a student’s score is close to one of the deciles used for grade cut-offs, then their participation in class will be considered. If participation was excellent, the higher letter grade will be awarded.


See the calendar of topics for lectures and labs. I will adjust the schedule as is appropriate for the class. I am more interested in having you learn the key concepts associated with each topic than in slavishly obeying the syllabus to ensure that we get through everything!

Textbook and Readings

The book by Williams et al. provides the underlying philosophy of the course and will be relied upon throughout the course.

Williams, B. K., J. D. Nichols, & M. J. Conroy.  2002.  Analysis and management of animal populations: modeling, estimation, and decision making.  Academic Press, New York. 

Various additional readings will be assigned to supplement the book and software documentation.  For example in lab, we’ll rely heavily on Cooch and White (2007), which will serve as an excellent lab manual for many exercises.  The reference for this excellent electronic book is: Cooch, E., and G. C. White, editors. 2009. Program MARK: A gentle introduction. For those of you interested in printing the book, you can save quite a bit of paper by working with a rotated, double-columned version of the book that is available here with a smaller but still legible font size. Larkin Powell and George Gale recently wrote a primer on analyses and sampling design for mark-recapture and survey efforts that you might find useful. You can download the entire book free of charge from their website

An Important Fact

This is an intensive course and much of the material will require careful thought if you are to understand it.  Students should plan their schedules for the semester accordingly. Students with less training and aptitude in quantitative material, statistics, and use of computers should expect to spend a large amount of extra time outside of class on this course.

Updated: 08/25/2017