Meeting Summary: Spatio-temporal dynamics are particularly important in both empirical and theoretical ecology. Our starting point is the idea that one goal of theoretical ecology is to provide the tools to infer process from pattern, and that this clearly requires patterns that have sufficient information. Systems that are at uniform equilibria are not very useful, and the complexity inherent in spatio-temporal dynamics provides much more information. One approach to making sense of this complexity is to use ideas from nonlinear dynamical systems theory. However, many ecological systems do not fit cleanly within the assumptions of this theory. Furthermore, nonlinear dynamical systems do not typically incorporate stochasticity. Statistical physics, on the other hand, assumes a stochastic description and seeks to find robust and universal features of spatio-temporal patterns that emerge from stochastic microscopic processes. Thus, ideas and approaches from statistical physics that do not rely on detailed, system-specific knowledge, such as the Ising model, have great potential for providing insights into spatio-temporal ecological dynamics, similar problems at other levels of biological organization, and perhaps more general spatial dynamic systems. The goal of this workshop is to bring together participants both from ecology and physics to explore these exciting possibilities going from current knowledge to future directions.
Collins Conference Room
This event is by invitation only.
Jon Machta, Karen Abbott, Julie Blackwood, Alan Hastings