Quantitative ecology programs blend a study of the ecological environment with mathematical analysis. This coursework can be broad and involve studies of topics as varied as genetics, programming, and ecology.
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A program in quantitative ecology can result in a master's or doctoral degree, which can require between 30 and 90 hours of coursework depending on your degree track. The following are a few of the common courses you will find.
Your coursework in population genetics will ask you to become familiar with the theories and principles used in this field. Coursework involves applying these principles to the specific area of understanding variation in genetics and the evolution of populations. Other topics might include mutation, genetic drift, and molecular evolution. Students may also learn about subjects such as selfish genetic systems, quantitative genetics, and human evolution as a whole.
Courses in linear programming ask students to become better acquainted with linear network problems. This course instructs students in how to model and optimize these networks. In the course, students will review algorithms, parametric programming, and various approaches to network problems. Students may also learn about topics that include model design, simplex method, and primal-dual algorithms.
Courses in stochastic models introduce students to stochastic systems analysis. This form of analysis can be applied to industrial engineering problems. Topics that a student encounter may include Markov chains, queuing theory, decision analysis, and queuing applications.
Part of your coursework may include an introduction to dynamic programming. In this course, you will learn about modeling and optimizing problems. This will require you to learn more about taking a dynamic programming approach to optimization. During your time in this course, you may also encounter topics that include integer programming formulation, linear and Lagrangian relaxation, and integer programming applications.
Evolutionary ecology uses an evolutionary framework to understand ecological interactions. Students learn about the interactions between plants and animals as well as between parasites and hosts. Topics might also include studies in bacterial antibiotic resistance, the evolution of virulence, and other issues that can harm the ecological environment. Students in this course may also work outside of the traditional lecture and inside a lab or field experiment setting.
Although different schools have varying admission standards, you will often need to meet the following common requirements. Given the quantitative nature of the coursework, you will be required to have taken varying amounts of mathematics coursework during your undergrad program. You will also be required to submit your GRE scores during your application, though your school may not publish a minimum GPA requirement. If English is your second language, you will have to submit proof of your English fluency, such as your TOEFL scores. You will also need to submit letters of recommendation supporting your application to the program.
A graduate degree in quantitative ecology requires coursework in stochastic models, evolutionary ecology, and linear programming. It is a math heavy program that integrates studies of environmental ecology.