Conservation Biology and Modeling


Target Audience:

Federal employees and graduate students engaged in natural resources conservation who wish to apply conservation biology and modeling principles to improve the management of natural resources. This course builds skills in the Biological Planning and Conservation Design components of Strategic Habitat Conservation.

Summary and Objectives:

Conservation biology is a highly interdisciplinary science that focuses on conservation of biological diversity at the gene, population, species, ecosystem, and landscape levels. This online course will emphasize some of the crucial components of preserving biodiversity, primarily the ecological and evolutionary dimensions of conservation. In this study, we will cover population viability analysis, metapopulation and source-sink dynamics (including ecological traps and edge effects), principles of conservation genetics, recognizing critical habitats, and reserve design. These concepts and others will be explored and applied through a series of modeling exercises and spreadsheet homework assignments. This learning experience combines video lectures, spreadsheet model development and use, three virtual classroom discussions (will be recorded if you are unable to attend), participant discussion boards, readings, and instructor interaction.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Define key terms: Conservation Biology, Biodiversity, and Population Ecology.
  • Demonstrate how ecological and evolutionary principles are applied to solving conservation problems.
  • Apply critical reasoning skills to assessment, analysis, and synthesis of conservation problems and solutions.
  • Identify linkages among conservation problems across biological (genes to landscapes), temporal, and geographical scales.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in tools used in conservation biology, including population modeling, population viability analysis, modeling and accounting for genetic deterioration, calculation of effective population size and design and management of protected areas or reserves.
  • Display competence in Excel, including familiarity with basic functions, use of macros, and use of simulation modeling.
  • Differentiate between populations and metapopulations and recognize different landscape effects on populations.
  • Explain Island Biogeography and relate this ecological theory to processes in population dynamics.
  • Extrapolate the importance of genetics to Conservation Biology.

Competencies Addressed: 

Conservation Biology - Intermediate, Conservation Modeling - Basic, Data Analysis and Interpretation - Basic, Data Management Analytics - Basic

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