Single Species Models BIOL5135

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Biodiversity One Health Vet Med
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will introduce students to the different ways in which it is possible to formulate single species population models. These will include models formulated in discrete and continuous time, age and size structured models, models that are deterministic, those that include demographic and environmental stochasticity, and the various sorts of dynamical behaviour that can arise from these different models. Emphasis will be placed on implementing these different model formulations in R.


Concentrated course offered over one week, with one hour lecture and two hours practical laboratory per day.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses



Students will submit practical exercises to gauge their depth of understanding and engagement with the skills learned in each of the practical sessions. The work will be assessed not only on completion of the assigned tasks but on interpretation and self-reflection of the theories learned (30%). The remaining 70% will be a take home problem-based independent assignment that will require integration of the knowledge and skills learned in this course.

Course Aims

This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of single species population models. It will aim to introduce students to the different ways these models can be formulated in theory, and implemented in practice (this will be undertaken in the R programming environment). Students will be asked to review a range of previous uses of these forms of models, and be asked to develop critical views of them. Emphasis will be placed on identifying the key assumptions of these different models, and when different formulations are most appropriate.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to critically discuss with reference to the evidence base and primary literature:

■ The applications, limitations and assumptions of the range of currently used single-species population models

■ The key features of a range of commonly used single-species population models, and evaluate the various assumptions that each make

■ Examples of when these different models have been applied to particular situations, and what different sorts of predictions such models are most appropriate for current issues and controversies in this area of ecological modelling


In addition, they will be able to:

■ Implement a range of different single-species models in R, and be able to conduct comprehensive numerical analysis of these models

■ Estimate critical parameters contained within these different formulations, and critically evaluate the sensitivity of model outputs to these parameters

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.