(31c) Ecological Models and Dynamics | AIChE

(31c) Ecological Models and Dynamics


Schmitz, R. A. - Presenter, University of Notre Dame

Certain complex behavior of open chemically reacting systems ? such as multiple steady states, sustained oscillations and intrinsic chaos ? that have attracted chemical reaction engineering researchers for decades, including this symposium's honoree, is linked in this presentation to the dynamics of food webs and ecosystems. There such behavior abounds and provides the framework for our understanding of species extinctions, of the formation and resilience (or fragility) of communities of species and ecosystems, and generally of catastrophic responses to external disturbances. This presentation draws material from a chemical engineering elective course, offered at the University of Notre Dame, on ecology and the environment ? material selected to exemplify the mathematical models and simulations used for instruction in that course and to illustrate the rich assortment of features that characterize the theoretical dynamics of food webs and ecosystems. In addition, examples show that systems of even modest size, typically plagued by high-dimensional state and parameter spaces, defy systematic theoretical studies and remain fertile territory for study and research.