NBIA Colloquium by Kim Sneppen – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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NBIA Colloquium by Kim Sneppen

How can biodiversity be maintained?

Kim Sneppen


A central problem in ecology is to identify mechanisms that maintain biodiversity, and I shall approach it from the viewpoint of mathematical models.  Simple models with "predator-prey" interactions are unsatisfactory but it is possible to obtain much larger diversity with models with cyclic interactions inspired by the children's game of "rock-scissors-paper".  I shall use communities of lichen on rock surfaces as a inspiration to discuss a new class of ecosystem models, in which diversity emerges when the likelihood of interactions falls below a certain critical threshold of 5.5%. The model emphasizes transient cyclic interactions as a key to creation of self organized ecological niches. In turn, these niches open up the possibility of subsequent speciation and dynamically sustained diversity.

Refreshments will be served in the NBIA lounge after the talk.