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BIRS Workshop Lecture Videos

A convenient form of complexity in ecology: multiple timescales Cosner, Chris


One of the features that distinguishes biological systems is the wide range of scales in time and space on which processes and interactions occur. This is a form of complexity, but it is one that can sometimes be turned into an advantage. I will describe models for a couple of systems where my collaborators and I have found that to be the case. The first (from long ago) is a system with ladybugs preying on aphids. The ladybugs (which are highly mobile but reproduce slowly) experience the environment as a system of patches, while the aphids (which are much less mobile but reproduce quickly) experience each patch as spatial continuum. The second (more recent) is a system aimed at describing the evolution of dispersal. Dispersal starts with the movement of individuals, which can be observed by tracks or tracking and described in terms of random walks. That then produces spatial patterns, which then influence ecological interactions within and among populations. Those in turn exert selective pressure on traits that determine the spatial patterns, and finally the selective pressure together with the occasional the appearance of mutants results in the evolution of dispersal traits. All of these processes can, in some cases, operate on different scales in time and space. It turns out that this when this occurs it can be exploited to produce relatively simple models in some situations. The older research I will discuss was conducted in collaboration with Steve Cantrell; the newer was with Steve Cantrell, Mark Lewis, and Yuan Lou

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