Class Information
Course Code: 05610
Term: Spring Qtr 2013
Meeting Information
Room: HH 178
Day & time: T T 3:30pm-4:50pm
Instructor Information
Dominik Wodarz
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (949) 824-2531
Office Location: 419 Steinhaus Hall
Office Hours: Tue 5-6pm
Course Information

This course is an upper division undergraduate class, and is also cross-listed as a graduate class (E251). This page contains information for both groups. Aspects that only apply to graduate students in this course are marked as such. Students are encouraged to contact me by email or see me for office hours if they have any questions or difficulties.

Population dynamics is the study of changes in population densities and the underlying biological forces which cause them; in other words the study of the factors that affect the growth, stability, and decline of populations, as well as the interactions of those factors. We will examine this on several levels: ecology (mainly compeition & predation), epidemiology of infectious diseases, the in vivo dynamics of viral infections, and the in vivo dynamics of somatic evolution and cancer. By nature, this is an interdisciplinary topic. It is very closely tied to the field of "theoretical biology", in which mathematical equations are used to analyse changes in population densities over time. The biological insights derived from such mathematical models form a central part fo the course. Undergaduate students are not expected to understand or perform details of the math. They are exected to understand the biological imporatance of the inights gained from theoretical work and answer questions accordingly. Graduate students who are taking the class are expected to follow the math.     

Exam dates
Quiz (5%): 4/25 Midterm (30%): 5/2 Essay Exam (20%) 5/23 Final (45%) 6/11: 4-6pm  (Quiz, midterm, and final are multiple choice)

Topics covered:

    • Basic concepts in population dynamics
    • Types of population growth (exponential, density dependence, stability, oscillations, chaos)
    • Dynamics of competition
    • Dynamics of predation
    • Importance of space, metapopulations
    • Apparent Competition
    • Basic concepts in infectious disease epdidemiology
    • Drug resistance in common cold as a case study
    • Basic introduction to viruses
    • Basic introduction to the immune system
    • Basic concepts about the in vivo dynamics of virus infections
    • Introduction to HIV
    • Dynamics between HIV and the immune system
    • Introduction to cancer as a somatic evolutionary process
    • Dynamics of cancer progression and treatment
This is a very interdisciplinary course. This is why I do not recommend to buy one particular textbook. Each textbook would only cover a very small fraction of this course. Instead, I will post reading here as we go along.It is very important that undergraduate students attend all lectures. The material needed for the exam is all provided in the lectures. While suggested reading will deepen your understanding of the topics, attendance of lectures is vital to have all the information required to do well in the exam. Lecture notes are not available as handouts on a regular basis.  
For the first part of the course, the following website contains useful information about basic population dynamics processes, such as population growth, competition, predation, etc:
Sample questions for essay exam:
You should write a coherent text that annswers the question in a concise way, approximately 1 page. You can draw diagrams to illustrate aspects of your text. They should be separate from the text, numbered and labeled. In the text you should refer to the pictures in the appropriate places, e.g. "see Figure 1".
Here are some questions from the first part of the course. The question you will get will be concerned with the second part of the course. 
- Clearly define the basic reproductive ratio of a pathogen. Describe why this is an important concept and provide some practical applications. 
- Describe different growth patterns that can be observed in single-species growth models. Define "Bifurcation" and explain what a bifurcation diagram is. 
- Compare and contrast the concepts of competition and apparent competition. Give examples.
- Describe why the functional response of a predator is improtant for predator-prey models. Define and describe 3 different functional responses.
Class Files
Additional Resources