This is an advanced course in ecology focussing on understanding evolutionary processes on the level of individuals, populations and species. The basic goal of the course is that you will learn to understand how evolutionary processes act on animals, that is you will learn evolutionary thinking applied on ecological questions (for example costs and benefits of different behaviours or the process shaping phenotypic traits of animals. The course covers different parts:
Education is given as lectures, group discussions, group exercises and own literature project.
At the beginning of the course we have a one day long excursion at our field station Stensoffa Ecological Station at Lake Krankesjön. In groups you will conduct a short field project on a topic in evolutionary ecology, for example experiments with insects and crustaceans, capture of birds, and studies of voles and borrelia. The aim with this project is to get an insight in the methods used to capture and handle animals and to begin stimulating your own creative thinking and discussions when analysing evolutionary and ecological questions.
The literature project is based on your own independent work and covers a topic you have selected in animal evolutionary ecology. You will read scientific papers on this topic, and summarise facts and draw conclusions from the text you read. The work will then be presented in written form (which will be graded) and with a short oral presentation.
Your progress in understanding ecological and evolutionary concepts and analyses is checked with a written examination (directed especially at creativity and analytical understanding) and it contributes to 80% of the total grade of the course. Graded are also the literature project (16% of the course grade) and a conference contribution in which oral presentation, experimental design and the ecological and evolutionary discussion will be important (4% of the course grade).
The course not only provides basic knowledge for advanced graduate studies in animal ecology, but you will also acquire skills in other topics where evolutionary analyses are important. Furthermore, the course gives very good training in creative analyses of problems, critical thinking and group work.
The course will be given in English during the second period in autumn.