Time & Location

Lecture/Lab: 12:40-1:55 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.

Grading

Grades will be based upon 2 exams (1 given during the term (100 pts) and a cumulative final exam (150 pts)) and ~12 homework 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.

Syllabus

See the calendar of topics for the topics to be covered each week. 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, we’ll rely heavily on the on-line book by Cooch and White (2007), which is an excellent manual for many of our homework exercises.  Larkin Powell and George Gale's primer on analyses and sampling design for mark-recapture and survey efforts might also be useful to you.

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: 08/08/2019