Fundamentals of Ecology


On completion of this unit, the student should be able to:

* understand the main concepts of ecology;

* understand the relation between biotic and abiotic factors;

* understand the growth or extinction of populations.

* know and describe examples that support the main concepts of ecology;

* apply the knowledge acquired to solve the problems of wildlife management, reintroduction of species, over-exploitation of natural resources and pest control.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Paula Oliveira Sobral, Michiel Adriaan Daam


Weekly - 3

Total - 76

Teaching language



Knowledge of General Biology and Statistics is recommended.


Krebs, C.J. 2013. Ecology. The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance, 6th edition. HarperCollins College Publishers, New York.

Molles, M.C. 2012. Ecology: Concepts and Applications, 6th ed. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Boston.

Odum, E.P. e G.W. Barrett. 2005. Fundamentals of Ecology, 5th ed.. Brooks/Cole, Belmont.

Smith, R.L. e T.M. Smith 2001. Ecology and Field Biology, 6th ed. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco.

Stiling, P. 2002. Ecology. Theories and Applications, 4th edition. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.

Townsend, C.R. 2008. Ecological Applications: Toward a Sustainable World. Blackwell Publishing, Malden.

Teaching method

Provide students with the ecological concepts needed to solve real cases and simultaneously guide students on an individual or group research path. The practical classes are oriented towards learning through on-site analysis and solving real cases through field trips. The non-present hours will be guided by tutorial using e-learning.

Evaluation method

Continuous evaluation.

Lectures (50%) - Evaluation consists of two tests of multiple choice. Average minimum grade is 9.5

Labs (50%) - Evaluation consists of two minitests and one report. Average minimum grade is 9.5

Students are required to attend 2/3 of the lab classes and minimum grade for labs evaluation of 9.5

FINAL MARK: average of tests and lab assignments.

Subject matter

1. Introduction. The scope and importance of Ecology. Applied ecology.

2. Physical environment. Solar radiation and climate, temperature, water, elemental nutrients, and soils.

3. Organisms in its environment. Adaptation, tolerance, homeostasis, and feedback systems. Natural selection and ecological adaptation. Decompositon.

4. Population ecology. Properties of populations. Population growth. Life tables. Deterministic and stochastic models. Human population growth. Population fluctuations and cycles. Intraspecific competition. Niche and coexistence of species. Predation. antipredator adaptations. Predator-prey models.

5. Human impacts on populations. population exploitation, forest exploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation. wildlife restoration, pollution, bioinvaders, pest population and control.

6. Evolution and behavioural ecology. Genetic variation and population size. Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium model. Evolution by natural selection. Extinction and conservation.


Programs where the course is taught: