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Pitched at undergraduates, the book is an excellent primer in spreadsheet modeling for the construction of biological models. In the process, it provides insight on basic and advanced concepts in ecology, evolution, conservation biology, landscape ecology and statistics.
The book contains basic spreadsheet exercises that explicate the concepts of statistical distributions, hypothesis testing and power, sampling techniques, and Leslie matrices. It contains exercises for modeling such crucial factors as population growth, life histories, reproductive success, demographic stochasticity, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, metapopulation dynamics, predator-prey interactions (Lotka-Volterra models), and many others. Building models using these exercises gives students "hands-on" information about what parameters are important in each model, how different parameters relate to each other, and how changing the parameters affects outcomes. The "mystery" of the mathematics dissolves as the spreadsheets produce tangible graphic results.
Each exercise grew from hands-on use in the authors' classrooms. Each begins with a list of objectives, background information that includes standard mathematical formulae, and annotated step-by-step instructions for using this information to create a working model. Students then examine how changing the parameters affects model outcomes and, through a set of guided questions, are challenged to develop their models further. In the process, they become proficient with many of the functions available on spreadsheet programs and learn to write and use complex but useful macros.
Spreadsheet Exercises in Ecology and Evolution can be used independently as the basis of a course in quantitative ecology and its applications or as an invaluable supplement to undergraduate textbooks in ecology, population biology, evolution, and population genetics.