Theoretical ecology & ecosystem modelling - 2015


This course consists of 5 sessions of 2h long each and will provide first an introductory survey of modern theoretical ecology (2 sessions) and second the essential elements required to simulate ecological foodweb dynamics using computer programming for scientific research (3 sessions). We will use Matlab / Octave(*) as programming language.


Programme information: 

A) Theoretical Ecology (an ABC introduction)

Session 1: Coexistence and competition

• Predator-prey model of Lotka-Volterra dynamics
• Resource competition theory: the Rstar concept
• Selective predation theory: killing-the-winner
• Species coexistence and competitive exclusion
• Niche theory versus neutral theory: who's right?

Session 2: Complexity and stability

• Resilience as a measure of ecosystem stability
• Complexity and stability of ecological foodwebs
• Productivity versus species diversity relationships
• Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) theory
• Species traits and trade-offs: why are they so key?

B) Ecosystem Modelling (using MATLAB programming)

Session 3: Lotka-Volterra in 0D (without spatial resolution)

• Predator-prey model of Lotka-Volterra in 0D (no spatial resolution)
• Description of the two model equations and their biological meaning
• Numerical solving: Euler (unstable) vs. Runge-Kutta method (robust)
• Dynamics of the system: predator-prey cycles due to neutral stability
• Plotting the final results: temporal solutions and the phase plane

Session 4: NPZD model in 0D (without spatial resolution)

• Ecosystem model: 'Nutrients - Phytoplankton - Zooplankton - Detritus'
• Description of the four model equations and their biological meaning
• Numerical solving using the Matlab solver ode45 (i.e. fast Runge-Kutta)
• Dynamics of the system: steady-state points and stable limit cycles
• Plotting the final results: temporal solutions and the phase plane

Session 5: NPZD ecosystem model in 1D (with vertical resolution)

• Seasonal cycle of the solar radiation and vertical extinction in the water column
• Seasonal cycle of turbulent diffusion and vertical structure in the water column
• Coupling the ecological model to the physical turbulent diffusion plus cell sinking
• Plotting the final results in 2D (depth vs. time) using the command "imagesc"

Number of hours: 

10h plus some homework hours



Course dates: 

Monday, February 16, 2015 to Friday, February 20, 2015


10:00-13:00 h


Institut de Ciències del Mar

Maximum number of places: 


Special requirements: 

Computer with Matlab / Octave installed
Computer Programming (any language)

Contact for further information: 

For additional information, please check our Contact section or get in contact directly with the Lecturer of this course.


Full price of this course is 180€. A reduced registration fee of 144€ is applied for early registrations (20 days before the opening of the course).
Price: 180.00€

Cancelation policies

Cancellations by attendants

To cancel a place that you have booked for a Barcelona Ocean course, a notice of cancellation must be sent via email to The following policies apply:
• If you cancel at least 3 months before the start of the course you will receive a full refund.
• If you cancel between 3 months and 1 month prior to the start of the course you will receive a full refund minus a 10% administration fee.
• If you cancel between 1 month and 10 working days prior to the start of the course you will receive a 50% refund.
• If you cancel less than 10 working days before the event you will not be entitled to a refund.
There will be no refund for non-attendance to the course.

Cancellations by Barcelona Ocean

Barcelona Ocean courses are constantly updated and, while we endeavour to deliver the courses as advertised, there may inevitably be occasions when we will have to change some of the course contents or one or more of the lecturers without prior notice or, in very exceptional circumstances, to cancel an event.
In the case of a complete course cancellation, attendants will either be offered an alternative date, a credit note or a full refund. Barcelona Ocean will not compensate for travel fees or any other expense incurred by you as a result of such cancellation. Every effort will be made to avoid the cancellation of any planned courses.

Subscribe to this course

If you are interested in this course but can not attend on the given dates, you might subscribe to this course by filling in the next form and we will contact you when a new edition is held:

In compliance with Law 15/1999 of 13 December on the Protection of Personal Data, Barcelona Ocean reports the following considerations: personal information we request is included in a file whose purpose is solely to inform about Barcelona Ocean's activities. Fields marked with an asterisk are mandatory, with the expressed purpose impossible unless providing such data. You are further advised of the possibility of exercising rights of access, rectification, cancellation and opposition of your personal data at

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Connect with us

We're on Social Networks. Follow us & get in touch.

Contact us

For any inquiries, please contact us by phone or email at: