Toward a theory of edges: using big and deep data to understand the connectedness of ecosystems
Andrew Hein (Department of Computational Biology, Cornell University)
Ecosystems are complex, nonlinear adaptive systems that comprise not only diverse populations of organisms, but also the diverse and often ephemeral interactions among those organisms. Historically, ecologists have built mathematical models of ecosystems by either assuming simple topologies and interaction rules, or by seeking to infer these from often limited demographic data. However, as new data collection technologies come online, it is becoming possible to actually measure ecological interactions directly. I will discuss how my lab is using new data collection technologies to measure ecological interactions in the lab and field, and how these, in turn, can inform the development of models of ecological communities.