What is it about?

Deterministic models often provide excellent insight into the behavior of complex processes, but real-world systems are typically subject to random noise. The landscape-flux theory allows us to analyze crucial ecological phenomena, such as regime shifts and ecosystem resilience, in stochastic models.

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Why is it important?

A central challenge in theoretical ecology is to quantify the stability or resilience of an ecosystem. This task is even more challenging when ecosystems are subject to random noise, as they typically are in practice. The landscape-flux theory provides an accessible framework to quantify stability and resilience in stochastic models. Moreover, it gives information on the global stability of an ecosystem, predicts the emergence of new stable states, and generates early warning signals of regime shifts.

Perspectives

One of my favorite aspects of this project was how it brought together researchers from applied math, chemistry, physics, ecology and theoretical ecology. The landscape-flux theory is very well suited to analyzing stochastic models in ecology, and this interdisciplinary team was ideal for illustrating the power of these techniques in this area.

Denis Patterson
Princeton University

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This page is a summary of: Unifying deterministic and stochastic ecological dynamics via a landscape-flux approach, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2103779118.
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