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Thursday, August 23, 2012
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)

Postdoc Seminar

Ecology as a complex system: theoretical methods and practical goals

James ODwyer
Santa Fe Institute

Ecological systems are typically stochastic, non-equilibrium, heterogeneous, and adapt over time. This means that understanding their dynamics and steady-state behavior is hard work---ecology simply fails to satisfy many of the properties which have made highly symmetric, close-to-equilibrium systems in physics amenable to theoretical analysis. On the other hand, being able to understand and predict the variation of biodiversity across the surface of the Earth is a pressing issue, with significant consequences for conservation and management.In this talk I will describe some approaches to building tractable models in ecology, with the goal of deriving the behavior of some the most widely-studied patterns of biodiversity: the Species Area Relationship and the Species Abundance Distribution. Finally I will discuss more recent, phylogenetic methods to characterize ecological communities, and whether such approaches are more potentially informative and useful than traditional species-based metrics of biodiversity.

Host: Aric Hagberg, CNLS, 667-1444,