Wednesday 27 January 2016

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 28 January 2016

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2016
28 January 2016 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

          Structure and Stability of Ecological Networks -

The role of dynamic dimensionality and species variability in resource use

Dr David Gilljam

Our Biosciences seminar series resumes this winter term with a talk by  Dr David Gilljam, from Linköping University (Sweden). David has a keen interest in ecology and in computer programming, so maybe not surprisingly he ended up becoming a theoretical ecologist! And, David will join us soon at Biosciences Swansea as post-doctoral fellow, in the group of Dr Mike Fowler - who tweets under the handle '@theorecol'. So, theoretically ... this sounds like a perfect combination :-)

In this talk, I will present the major research results and implications of my work on the response of ecological communities to environmental variability and species loss. A central and much discussed question in ecology is what properties of ecosystems promote the long-term coexistence of numerous interacting species, that is, properties conferring a ‘balance of nature’. Especially, understanding the ecological processes and mechanisms that links diversity and stability in natural ecosystems has been at the heart of community ecology for more than half a century. 

My approach is theoretical; I use mathematical models of networks where species population dynamics are described by ordinary differential equations. A common theme of the papers in the thesis is variation – variable link structure and within-species variation in resource use. To explore how such variation affect the stability of ecological communities in variable environments, I use numerical methods evaluating for example community persistence (the proportion of species surviving over time). I also develop a new method for quantifying the dynamical dimensionality of an ecological community based on eigenvalue analysis and investigate its effect on community persistence in stochastic environments. 

Moreover, if we are to gain trustworthy model output, it is of course of major importance to create study systems that reflect the structure of natural systems. To this end, I also study highly resolved, individual based empirical food web data sets. 

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

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