BB529: Introduction to Biodemography
The course builds on the knowledge of evolution and life history gained in courses including BB525, BB531, and BB512 (which runs in parallel). The course gives an academic basis for further studies in population biology, conservation and evolution, for example during bachelor or masters projects or in BB844.
In relation to the competence profile of the degree it is the explicit focus of the course to:
- Enter into academic collaborations and structure personal learning.
- Provide skills in conducting scientific investigations, critically evaluate biological theories and express, evaluate, and solve biological problems.
- Provide knowledge and understanding of scientific theories, analytical methods, and current research topics in biology and how these are employed in biological discussions.
Expected learning outcome
- explain how demographic data can help assess and manage species in the wild
- construct and interpret a life table
- construct and interpret a matrix population model
- formulate testable hypotheses related to demography
- describe and explain the major demographic theories
- describe and explain broad demographic patterns in several major groups of species including humans
- the diversity of demographic behavior in animals and plants
- life history evolution
- life tables and matrices
- evolutionary theories of aging
- demographic data collection
- the demography of species conservation and management
Exam element a)
Group project and an individual written report
Indicative number of lessons
- Group work addressing a biodemographic question.
- Making a poster presentation.
- Writing reports from laboratory or class exercises
- Reading assigned material
The course is structured with a combination of 1hr lectures, followed by 1hr of exercises, and hands-on tutorials, designed to reinforce the content of the lectures. There is a half-day excursion collecting data on human populations from a local cemetery. Students use this data to construct life tables, which they analyse using methods taught in classroom sessions. Matrix population modeling is taught in a series of hands-on tutorials where students learn how to predict the fates of populations under different environmental conditions. The course ends with a group project where students apply the theory and methods they have learned to address an interesting topic in biodemography. The students present the results of their project work in a conference-style poster session designed to share the knowledge gained among their classmates.