Modelling plankton ecosystems and the Library of Lotka
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Predicting how change will impact ecosystems requires the development of complex models. The complexity of ecosystem models often defies the power of analytical mathematical techniques so they are commonly solved using computers. A problem with this approach is the difficulty in assessing the credibility of model simulation results. We apply ecological axioms to the construction of complex model ecologies. The axioms ensure realistic ecological properties and internal consistency of a broad class of models that encompass many theoretical and applied models. A key new analytical result for our dynamical systems in ecospace is that extinctions can be studied without knowledge of either interior equilibrium points or their stability. By looking only at boundary extinction points we can immediately comment on the extinction behaviour without solving for any of the dynamics. This is a striking simplification, and even holds when the dynamics are chaotic. We demonstrate the approach by constructing three plankton ecosystem models that we designed to have specific properties and show that the effect of change on plankton blooms and/or extinctions depends on the properties of the model chosen for the simulation.
Journal of Marine Systems
Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.