Ecological Modeling

Ecological Modeling (FOR 8515)

David Larsen  
Spring Semester, Even Years

Home Topics Bibliography Class Bibliography Modeling Tools Assignments


This course will introduce you to the topics and philosophy, of ecological modeling.  The course is designed to guide you through the process of developing a conceptual model, formalizing the model, formulating, parameterizing, and  running the model as well as analyzing the results.

This is not a statistical model fitting course.  You may use statistical model fitting in your project but it is not required.  This is not a model survey course in the sense of surveying all available model formulations. As students interest vary the course will emphasize different model families and topics.

This course will have a large amount of modeling philosophy.  After the course you should understand what is a model.  How are they formulated as well as how they probably should be formulated.  What is the role of statistics in modeling.  What are the current ideas on model testing.
This course is design to introduce you to the interesting and important topics in ecological modeling and their appropriate interpretation as tools in natural resource management.

This is a dynamic page, listing current information about the course, and will grow throughout the semester.

Other Software

Simile the visual modelling environment for ecological, biological and environmental research

R, project for Statistical Computing

OCTAVE, GNU Octave is a high-level language, primarily intended for numerical computations.

Other books that will be referred to in class:

Chalmers, A. F. 1982. What is this thing called Science? Second Edition. Open University Press, Buckingham.  179 pp.

Hilborn, R. and M. Mangel. 1997. The Ecological Detective: Confronting Models with Data. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-03497-4

Kimmins, J. P. 1997. Forest Ecology: A Foundation for Sustainable Resource Management. Prentice Hall Publishing Co. New York. 531 pp.

Pickett, S. T. A., J. Kolasa, and C. G. Jones 1994. Ecological Understanding. Academic Press, San Diego. 206 p.

Renshaw, E. 1993. Modelling Biological Populations in Space and Time. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.  403 pp.


FOR 8515

Class Meetings:
MWF 1:00pm-1:50pm
114 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building
Office Hours:
MWF 2:00-3:00
203R Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building


Graduate Student.

Important University Policies

Announcements Policy.

Your instructor will make all important announcements such as canceled class sessions, delayed due dates, and clarifications to assignments during class time. Usually the course assignments page  will also repeat this information.

No course changes will be sent by e-mail!

Email to the Instructor.  For matters related to this course, please send email to

Special Needs (ADA) Statement -

If you need accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform me immediately. Please see me privately after class, or at my office.

To request academic accommodations (for example, a note taker or extended time on exams), students must also register with the Office of Disability Services (, S5 Memorial Union, 882-4696. It is the campus office responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students requesting academic accommodations, and for accommodations planning in cooperation with students and instructors, as needed and consistent with course requirements. For other MU resources for students with disabilities, click on "Disability Resources" on the MU homepage.

Academic Dishonesty Policy - Academic honesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards academic dishonesty as an extremely serious matter, with serious consequences that range from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, consult the course instructor.

Created by David R. Larsen December 15, 2009
Last Updated: January 20, 2010