Theoretical population biology
Humans have long puzzled about the origin of the natural world around them.
It was clear as long ago as the 17th century that the laws of
what we now call the physical world were best experienced in mathematical
language. It is only much more recently that biological laws have been
expressed in terms of equations. In former times, biologists categorised
their area of interest horizontally – thus we had lepidopterists,
or botanists, or ornithologists. Nowadays, the categorisation is more usually
thus we have molecular biologists, or cell biologists, or
Population biologists study the properties of groups of organisms.
On shorter time scales, we study ecology, in which the interaction
between different species in different environments is examined, either
theoretically or experimentally. On longer time scales, the species themselves
change through evolution, and even on shorter time scales there
are genetic changes in the population that may enable the history
of the species to be probed.
Population biologists seek answers to everyday problems of species management
in natural parks and other artificial environments, but also ask fundamental
to seemingly unanswerable questions about natural history. Such questions
Here in Southampton, recent research in the theoretical population biology
group has included:
why sexual reproduction is so widespread?
why it is not universal?
what is the relationships between population and organism size?
what is the behaviour and stability of complex multi-species communities?
can we explain the fossil record which gives a distribution for the
lifetimes of species?
what are the selctive pressures which influence organism lifespan?
Modelling populations of sexual and asexual organisms;
Examining the behaviour of non-steady populations in predator-prey communities;
Game theoretical models of cooperation
The group accepts applications from potential research students
and postodctoral workers. Funding may be available, and applicants
should write to Professor
We also are interested in the population biology of the species
sapiens sapiens. This work is carried out in a separate research group
associated with the Department of Archaeology.
written by Tim Sluckin 3/11/00