Human Population Biology BIO A 382 (Winter 2001)

Darryl J. Holman
M43 Denny Hall


This course is an introduction to human population biology including human population dynamics, the interplay between biology and ecology, and genetic variation of human populations. The emphasis is on developing a qualitative understanding of human population processes using quantitative models of biocultural processes. The focus of the course is on the population biology of small-scale societies.


Classes are Tuesday and Thursday, 4:30 to 5:50 p.m. in 411 Balmer Hall. Office hours are after class. Other times can be arranged. You can also use email (at the address listed above) to contact me with questions and comments, or to set up appointments. My email address is, or click here.


There is no text book for this course, per se. Instead there are a number of papers and book chapters that you must read. All readings can be found on a electronic reserve (or try here). Please complete readings by the begining of the week to which they pertain. This will help you understand the lecture material and will allow us to discuss the material intelligently.


Your course grade will be based on four problem sets worth 15% each (60% total) and a final exam (40%).

Problem sets

The problem sets will include some analytical problems as well as short written answers. I encourage you to work in groups on the problems, and you are free to use any books, readings, or notes to work on the problems. If you work in a group, use the opportunity to ensure a complete understand the problems- you will see similar problems on the final exam. In part, the problem sets test your ability to do the work in a limited amount of time. Therefore, grades for late problem sets will depreciate by 10% per day, including any fraction of a day late. For example, if you would have gotten a 95% on the problem set, it depreciates to 85.5% for being one day late, 77% by for 2 days late, and so on. Problem sets are due by the beginning of the class period, one week after being handed out.


A final exam will cover the entire course. The exam will be worth 40% of your grade, and will be made up of two parts. The first part will be short essay questions covering concepts and ideas that we discussed throughout the quarter, and the second part will be numeric problems. The format will be much like the problem sets. The exam will be held in the classroom on Friday, 16 Mar 2001 from 4:30 to 6:20 p.m.

Topics and Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 2, 4): Introduction to human population biology

  • Readings: Keyfitz (1985).
  • overheads Jan 2
  • overheads Jan 4

  • Week 2 (Jan 9, 11): The structure of human populations

  • Readings: Coale (1974).
  • overheads Jan 9
  • overheads Jan 11
  • Problem set 1 due Jan 18

  • Week 3 (Jan 16, 18): Population genetics I

  • Readings: Ginzburg and Golenberg (1985) pp 7-43.
  • overheads Jan 16
  • overheads Jan 18

  • Week 4 (Jan 23, 25): Population genetics II

  • Readings: Ginzburg and Golenberg (1985) pp 47-77..
  • overheads Jan 23
  • overheads Jan 25
  • Problem set 2 due Feb 1

  • Week 5 (Jan 30, Feb 1): Population genetics III

  • Readings: Ginzburg and Golenberg (1985) pp 81-115.
  • overheads Jan 30
  • overheads Feb 1

  • Week 6 (Feb 6, Feb 8): Population growth and regulation

  • Readings: Ginzburg and Golenberg (1985) pp 117-139, Wood (1998).
  • overheads Feb 6
  • overheads Feb 8
  • Problem set 3 due Feb 15

  • Week 7 (Feb 13, 15): Human fertility

  • Readings: Wood (1990).
  • overheads Feb 13
  • overheads Feb 15

  • Week 8 (Feb 20, 22): Human aging and mortality

  • Readings:Wood et al. (1994), Gage (1988).
  • overheads Feb 20
  • overheads Feb 22
  • Problem set 4 due Mar 1

  • Week 9 (Feb 27, Mar 1): Disease ecology

  • Readings: Mosley and Chen (1984).
  • overheads Feb 27
  • Earthquake damage report Feb 28

  • Week 10 (Mar 6, 8): Extentions and elaborations

  • Readings:None.
  • overheads Mar 6
  • overheads Mar 8

  • Review session: Tuesday, 13 Mar, 411 Balmer, 4:30 pm.

    Final exam: Friday, 16 Mar, 411 Balmer, 4:30 pm.

    Other stuff

  • Readings
  • Full course syllabus
  • links