[Home] [WildPop] [Syllabus] [Schedule]

Wildlife Population Analysis

WILD 7250 (001) 3 Credits


Lecture – TTh 11:00-12:15 am SFWS 1223

Labs –  T 12:00a-1:50p SFWS 2216

Instructor: Dr. James (Barry) Grand,

Office:  3236 Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building

E-mail:  grandjb@auburn.edu



Studies measuring survival and success rates are of great interest to scientists faced with managing or researching wild populations. The overall theme of this course is to provide graduate students with the skills necessary to design, analyze, and make inferences from such studies.  Lecture and laboratory material will focus on maximum-likelihood estimation of population parameters:  survival, recruitment, abundance, distribution (patch occupancy), model-based estimation, use of information theoretic methods for model selection, and parameterization and analysis of matrix population models.



1.    Introduce state-of-the art methods for design and analysis of studies of animal distribution, abundance, and demography

2.    Provide experience in sample design, analysis, and inference from data sets for the analysis of presence/absence surveys and studies of marked populations.

3.    Introduce methods for using matrix models in the analysis of wild populations.

4.    Provide experience in matrix model design, analysis, and inference for wildlife populations



No textbook is required for this course.

Suggested text:  Williams, BK, JD Nichols, and MJ Conroy.  Analysis and management of animal populations.  Academic Press.  (on reserve)

Readings will be assigned or provided prior to each class meeting.

Other reference materials:

Burnham, KP and DR Anderson. 2008.  Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information theoretic approach.  Springer-Verlag New York.

Caswell, H.  2001.  Matrix population models: construction, analysis, and interpretation.  Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass.


Two hours lecture and 1 three hour lab meeting each week.  All participants are expected to read assigned readings prior to class.  Students will develop a term project in population analysis based original data, data gleaned from the primary literature, or simulations.  Term projects will be presented to the class in a 20 minute slide presentation with handouts.


There will be no examinations. Grades will be assigned on a 10-point scale (e.g. 90-100=A, 80-89=B, etc.) and calculated in the following way:



Laboratory exercises


Term project


All graded items (e.g. lab assignments, term projects) must be delivered on time for full credit. Exceptions will be granted only under the most stringent conditions, requiring official medical or university documentation. In the event of an unavoidable conflict with class attendance or submission of assignments, make every attempt to notify me prior to class meetings or due dates.


Students will be required to develop a term project.  Although students will be free to choose a subject related to population analysis, I must approve the subject.  Although not required, students are encouraged to prepare manuscripts on the subject material.  Presentations must include introductory material which synthesizes the pertinent literature, a description of the methods used to collect the data, description of the quantitative techniques used in the analysis, and interpretation of the results, and recommendations or conservation implications.

There is a time schedule for this project to which students must adhere. A change in subject part way through the semester will not result in a penalty, provided the schedule is still observed; subject changes must be discussed with me. The term project schedule will be determined during the first week of class.

Here are the required stages in project development:

Subject choice:  Includes a rough outline of the project. The rough outline need only list the project objectives.

Detailed outline:  Formal outline or free-form outlines are fine; bibliography must be included.

Presentation:  A 15-minute presentation of the term project in a format suitable for a symposium or professional scientific meeting.  The presentations will be delivered using PowerPoint® .  Presentations will be scored by the class and the instructor, and the final grade will be based on a weighted average.

Originality – Was the project based on an original idea or was it simply repetition of an existing study? (20%)

Content – Looking for good scientific process (40%)

·         Introductory material that relates to existing theory

·         Working hypotheses that will be tested

·         Description of the models that are derived from the hypotheses

·         Description of the methods used to collect or generate the data

·         Description of the quantitative techniques used in the analysis

·         Interpretation of results

Organization – Was the presentation organized logically? (20%)

Response to questions – Were responses to questions from the audience appropriate? (20%)


This is a graduate course. Attendance will not be taken, because I assume all students will attend every class meeting, unless emergencies or research precludes it. Obviously, missing discussions will reduce points assigned for discussion participation.


Students should be familiar with the Student Academic Honesty Code that is published in the latest version of the Tiger Cub, each will be expected to strictly adhere to this code. Any violations of this code will be brought before the Academic Honesty Committee.


Office hours are by appointment only. However, feel free to just stop by anytime; if I cannot meet with you immediately I will be happy to set up a mutually convenient time for us to talk. If you have any questions, please ask them.  If I don’t know the answer, we will find it out together. Remember, asking questions after final grades have been assigned is too late. Particularly in a graduate course, questions are an integral part of learning and there are no stupid questions!

[Home] [Populations] [Syllabus] [Schedule]