The first part of the course (E. Matthysen) focuses on species conservation and is structured in accordance with the typical components of a species conservation plan. The three main sections are (i) assessment of conservation status; (ii) analyzing reasons for decline; (iii) species conservation in practice. The course focuses strongly on the use of deterministic and stochastic population models for population viability assessment. Students are introduced to Vortex, a commonly used stochastic simulation model for PVA, and construct their own model for a real species of conservation concern, based on demographic data from the literature.
The second part (H. Leirs) focuses on control and exploitation of populations. This section contains the following topics:
- Concepts and models for exploitation of populations, strategies for sustainable harvesting and optimal yield including the role of economic factors. We look at fisheries regulation as an example.
- Properties of populations of pest species. Common strategies in pest control with their strengths and weaknesses.
- Influence of environmental stochasticity on population outbreaks. Predictive and simulation models of pest control, including bio-economic aspects.
- The use of models in predicting establishment, spread and impact of invasive species