Population Ecology

25-30 students, Fall semester, 4 Cr.

This class offers an overview of population ecology while providing hands-on experience of the complementarity of theoretical and empirical work. The syllabus starts with an introduction to maximum likelihood and its applications to the statistical estimation of population parameters. Students collect presence-absence data and use it in a collective site-occupancy estimation exercise. Subsequently, they take one step back from the empirical exercise and study theoretical abstractions of population growth. Both data analyzes and theoretical simulations of population growth are carried out with R. A term-paper gives students the opportunity to present and defend one original population-ecology question that they see as relevant but has not yet been answered.  

This class has been offered 22 times to more than 500 students at INPA, USP, UFRJ, UFMT, and UFRGS. The contents have changed since the first edition, at INPA, in 2004, but there's been a consistent emphasis on the unification of theoretical and empirical work.  

Special topics in Ecology

Spring or Fall, 15-30 students, 2-4 Cr.

This is a free-form, variable-credit course offered by the UFRGS graduate program in ecology to accommodate occasional limited-edition classes, often in collaboration with visiting faculty. In December 2015, for example, Pablo Inchausti, from de Universidad de la Republica (Uruguay), will offer a 'Special Topics' class on Linear Models, with the assistance of Murilo Guimarães and Gonçalo Ferraz. 

Academic participants in the lab workshops can obtain academic credit by registering in the corresponding 'Special Topics' class. 


Graduate Student mentorship

Graduate training at the Ferraz lab emphasizes quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and breadth of understanding. Students are challenged to present their ideas in a mathematical framework, to question every scientific statement and to approach their research problems from a variety of perspectives. Ongoing lab projects center on the analysis of animal population responses to landscape change in the study area of the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, near Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon. Students can develop their projects around ongoing field work and/or analysis of existing Amazon data; students with research interests outside the scope of ongoing work are encouraged to develop original projects, conditional on funding availability. Prospective students are welcome to visit the lab in Porto Alegre, or send email with questions. If you know what you want from graduate school and think that this lab is the right place to get it, try composing a personal statement and send it to Gonçalo's Email.  

Lab team at the 2014 retreat, with collaborators, graduate, and undergraduate students. From left to right: (standing) Gilberto J. Fernandez, Renata Ilha, Pâmela Friedemann, Pedro Martins, Alejandra Pizarro, Carolina Schuch; (seating) Bento C. Gonçalves, Murilo Guimarães, Gonçalo Ferraz, and Bianca Darski.