Course description:

This 2-credit course, taught at the University of Idaho, will cover core concepts in population analysis for wildlife biology, although it is by no means comprehensive. The course is structured around hands-on coding exercises that will allow students to grow a basic toolbox of population analytical techniques, as well as the skills to code such analyses rather than simply execute other people's pre-written R code. It will build on foundation courses in population biology, which all students should have completed, as well as basic statistical concepts. We will cover analyses related to modeling vital rates, population growth, abundance, and density. 

Again, this course is NOT comprehensive- there are so many analyses these days across population biology, and we will only be covering a handful. However, major types of analyses for different kinds of data will be covered during lecture, and an important version of that type of analysis then assigned as a coding exercise for that week. 

Useful websites and online texts:

  1. A very approachable primer of population parameter estimation:

  2. Michael Conroy's course website:

  3. Jay Rotella's course website:

  4. MARK program help book, includes info on analysis:

  5. Good intro to R for wildlife students by USGS:

  6. A good place to look for upcoming workshops:

And many more...

Recommended texts:

  1. Skalski, John R., Kristin E. Ryding, and Joshua Millspaugh. Wildlife demography: analysis of sex, age, and count data. 2005.

  2. Williams, Byron K., James D. Nichols, and Michael J. Conroy. Analysis and management of animal populations. 2002.

  3. Doak, Dan, and Bill Morris. Quantitative conservation biology. 2002.

There are a huge number of books on specialty topics, from matrix models to survival, occupancy, capture-recapture, and integrated population models, and I encourage you to find and purchase those that are most beneficial to your research and learning.

Schedule (2019):


Week 1: August 27th: Introduction to population analysis

Week 3: September 10: Survival analysis: known fates

Week 4: September 17: More survival bootstrapping

Week 5: September 24: Estimating population growth, Leslie matrices

Week 6: October 1st: No class, Sophie at TWS annual meeting

Week 8: October 15: SCR guest lecture with Clayton Lamb

Week 9: October 22: No class, Sophie at conference. Complete week 8 assignment, and SCR reading (TBD)


Grades are pass/fail, and will be based on weekly participation, including coding exercises and code-sharing from previous coding exercises. Given different experience levels, a truly honest effort given your skill level is what I’m looking for (10 pts per weekly meeting). Please let me know if you will be absent for fieldwork, conference travel, etc., and I will not count that week’s participation against you.