Ecological Modeling BIOE 591
Dr. Ben Poulter, Department of Ecology
Many ecological processes take place at time scales that are either too fast or slow, or occur at spatial scales either too small or large, for direct observation. With a wealth of ecological data steadily accumulating from various networks of vegetation plots (e.g., US Forest Inventory Analysis), ecosystem experiments (e.g., Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments), plant traits (e.g., TRY) and remote sensing (e.g., European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative), it is becoming increasingly possible to understand ecosystem processes across the complete range of scales to address questions related to i) climate change impacts, ii) disturbance regimes, iii) land management, and iv) land-surface feedbacks, for example. This course will introduce students to ecological modeling as a tool for integrating data from observations and experiments with theoretical approaches, with a particular focus on terrestrial ecosystems. A comprehensive range of topics will be covered; including those related to ecosystem development (i.e., establishment, growth, competition, mortality and disturbance), issues associated with aggregating and scaling ecological data, and introduction to various approaches used for computer modeling. By the end of the course, students will be expected to understand a variety of approaches for abstracting observed ecosystem processes to models, have a background in the technical tools available to construct computer models, and be able to critically evaluate modeling approaches used in major synthesis assessments such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports.