Modeling & Math



Hal Caswell, Cabell Davis, Michael Neubert, Rubao Ji, Sam Laney    
WHOI biologists are using modeling, ecological theory, and state-of-the-art computer systems to examine the ecological processes that lead to the complex spatial and temporal patterns of organisms in the marine environment. The research focuses on population and community dynamics, life-history theory, and interactions of marine populations with the physical environment.

These studies are contributing also to an understanding of the demography of individual marine organisms, conservation biology, and the effects of pollutants on marine populations.

The laboratories of Hal Caswell and Michael Neubert are involved with studies that address the following issues:

1. Population modelling:

The development and analysis of matrix population models and their application in conservation biology and ecotoxicology. Stochastic matrix models and their sensitivity analysis. Bifurcation patterns in density-dependent matrix models in relation to life history structure.

2. Food web modelling:

Studies of the effects of population structure and nonlinearity on the dynamics of food webs and other ecological systems. Characterizing the short-term responses of nonlinear systems to perturbations. The effects of density-dependence on chaos in plankton food webs.

3. Spatial systems:

The combined effects of dispersal and life history structure. The use of cellular automata and integrodifference equations to study competitive coexistence, predator-prey interactions, and species persistence in spatially distributed populations.

4. Physiological Models:

Mathematical models are also used to learn more about the physiological responses of marine organisms. Research in Sam Laney's lab uses system analysis tools from electrical engineering to explore and describe the photosynthetic responses of marine phytoplankton to changes in the underwater light field.