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Teaching Ecology Post 3: Population Ecology

A population is a group of organisms, all of the same species, living in the same general area.  Population ecology is a sub-field of ecology that deals with the dynamics of how a species interacts within its population and how the species interacts with the environment.

My personal opinion is that this is not the most exciting topic to teach in a high school biology class.  No offense to any of you population biologists out there, but this can be a little dry and boring.   My plan of attack is to move swiftly, lay out the important points accurately and efficiently, throw in some cool pictures and graphics, and then move on out of this unit!!

Pertinent points to cover include:
1. Characteristics of Populations: Definition of population, geographic distribution, density, dispersion, growth rate, and age structure.
2. Types of Dispersion: Clumped, even, and random.
3. Population Dynamics: Birth rate, death rate, life expectancy.
4. Patterns of mortality: Survivorship Curves, the three types of survivorship curves with examples.
5. Life Histories: Big-bang reproduction and repeated reproduction
6. Population Growth: Growth rate, factors that determine the size of a population, migration, density, exponential growth, carrying capacity, limits to population growth, graphs of different types of population growth, logistic growth, assumptions of the exponential model and the logistic model.
7. Limits to Growth: Limiting factors, examples of limiting factors, density-dependent factors, competition, predation, parasitism, disease, territoriality, density independent factors.
8. Human Population Growth: The history of human population growth, current human population growth, demographic transition, age-structure diagrams.

Put all of this into a PowerPoint and you come up with:

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