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Ecological systems theory

Benjamin T Martin, Stephan B Munch, Andrew M Hein
Ecologists have long sought to understand the dynamics of populations and communities by deriving mathematical theory from first principles. Theoretical models often take the form of dynamical equations that comprise the ecological processes (e.g. competition, predation) believed to govern system dynamics. The inverse of this approach-inferring which processes and ecological interactions drive observed dynamics-remains an open problem in ecology. Here, we propose a way to attack this problem using a machine learning method known as symbolic regression, which seeks to discover relationships in time-series data and to express those relationships using dynamical equations...
May 16, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Matan Danino, Nadav M Shnerb
Competition is the main driver of population dynamics, which shapes the genetic composition of populations and the assembly of ecological communities. Neutral models assume that all the individuals are equivalent and that the dynamics is governed by demographic (shot) noise, with a steady state species abundance distribution (SAD) that reflects a mutation-extinction equilibrium. Recently, many empirical and theoretical studies emphasized the importance of environmental variations that affect coherently the relative fitness of entire populations...
April 2018: Physical Review. E
Julie E Groce, Megan A Farrelly, Bradley S Jorgensen, Carly N Cook
The conservation and management of natural resources operates within social-ecological systems, in which resource users are embedded in social and environmental contexts that influence their management decisions. Characterizing social networks of resource users has received growing interest as an approach for understanding social influences on decision-making, and social network analysis (SNA) has emerged as a useful technique to explore these relationships. In this review, we synthesize how SNA has been used in studies of natural resource management...
May 8, 2018: Conservation Biology: the Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
Li Yang, Marie-Anne Sanon Rosemberg, Julia S Seng
BACKGROUND: Adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight are significant public health concerns and contribute to neonatal morbidity and mortality. Studies have increasingly been exploring the predictive effects of maternal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on adverse birth outcomes. However, the biological mechanisms by which maternal PTSD affects birth outcomes are not well understood. Allostatic load refers to the cumulative dysregulations of the multiple physiological systems as a response to multiple social-ecological levels of chronic stress...
April 10, 2018: Midwifery
José M Ponciano, Mark L Taper, Brian Dennis
Change points in the dynamics of animal abundances have extensively been recorded in historical time series records. Little attention has been paid to the theoretical dynamic consequences of such change-points. Here we propose a change-point model of stochastic population dynamics. This investigation embodies a shift of attention from the problem of detecting when a change will occur, to another non-trivial puzzle: using ecological theory to understand and predict the post-breakpoint behavior of the population dynamics...
April 26, 2018: Theoretical Population Biology
Jens Frickel, Philine G D Feulner, Emre Karakoc, Lutz Becks
Predicting the repeatability of evolution remains elusive. Theory and empirical studies suggest that strong selection and large population sizes increase the probability for parallel evolution at the phenotypic and genotypic levels. However, selection and population sizes are not constant, but rather change continuously and directly affect each other even on short time scales. Here, we examine the degree of parallel evolution shaped through eco-evolutionary dynamics in an algal host population coevolving with a virus...
April 27, 2018: Nature Communications
India Mansour, Catherine M Heppell, Masahiro Ryo, Matthias C Rillig
Flows of water, soil, litter, and anthropogenic materials in and around rivers lead to the mixing of their resident microbial communities and subsequently to a resultant community distinct from its precursors. Consideration of these events through a new conceptual lens, namely, community coalescence, could provide a means of integrating physical, environmental, and ecological mechanisms to predict microbial community assembly patterns better in these habitats. Here, we review field studies of microbial communities in riverine habitats where environmental mixing regularly occurs, interpret some of these studies within the community coalescence framework and posit novel hypotheses and insights that may be gained in riverine microbial ecology through the application of this concept...
April 26, 2018: Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Candice Lys
The mental health of young women in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada, is a critical public health concern; however, there is a dearth of research that examines how this population manages mental health challenges. This study explores the self-identified strategies that female youth in the NWT use to cope with mental health issues. The arts-based qualitative method of body mapping and a trauma-informed, strengths-based approach grounded in social ecological theory was used to collect data during in-depth semi-structured interviews...
December 2018: International Journal of Circumpolar Health
Zhi Gang Yan, Jun Qing Li
The areas of the habitat and bamboo forest, and the size of the giant panda wild population have greatly increased, while habitat fragmentation and local population isolation have also intensified in recent years. Accurate evaluation of ecosystem status of the panda in the giant panda distribution area is important for giant panda conservation. The ecosystems of the distribution area and six mountain ranges were subdivided into habitat and population subsystems based on the hie-rarchical system theory. Using the panda distribution area as the study area and the three national surveys as the time node, the evolution laws of ecosystems were studied using the entropy method, coefficient of variation, and correlation analysis...
December 2017: Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao, the Journal of Applied Ecology
Carolyn A Wessinger, John K Kelly
Pollinator-mediated selection on plants can favor transitions to a new pollinator depending on the relative abundances and efficiencies of pollinators present in the community. A frequently observed example is the transition from bee pollination to hummingbird pollination. We present a population genetic model that examines whether the ability to inbreed can influence evolutionary change in traits that underlie pollinator attraction. We find that a transition to a more efficient but less abundant pollinator is favored under a broadened set of ecological conditions if plants are capable of delayed selfing rather than obligately outcrossing...
May 2018: American Naturalist
Catherine D'Arcy, Ann Taket, Lisa Hanna
Lay Health Worker (LHW) programs have been shown to be effective in engaging community members in health promotion. While successful LHW program implementation requires an understanding of factors influencing program effectiveness, evidence informing such understanding is lacking for empowerment and ecological theory-based LHW programs. This descriptive study explores how enablers and barriers, identified from LHW literature apply (from the LHWs' perspective) in the context of implementing an empowerment and ecological theory-based LHW model in Melbourne, Victoria...
April 24, 2018: Health Promotion International
Diana Delicado, Torsten Hauffe, Thomas Wilke
BACKGROUND: Differences in species richness among phylogenetic clades are attributed to clade age and/or variation in diversification rates. Access to ecological opportunity may trigger a temporary increase in diversification rates and ecomorphological variation. In addition, lower body temperatures in poikilothermic animals may result in decreasing speciation rates as proposed by the metabolic theory of ecology. For strictly freshwater organisms, environmental gradients within a river continuum, linked to elevation and temperature, might promote access to ecological opportunity and alter metabolic rates, eventually influencing speciation and extinction processes...
April 19, 2018: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Lu Bai, Jianzhou Wang, Xuejiao Ma, Haiyan Lu
Air pollution is defined as a phenomenon harmful to the ecological system and the normal conditions of human existence and development when some substances in the atmosphere exceed a certain concentration. In the face of increasingly serious environmental pollution problems, scholars have conducted a significant quantity of related research, and in those studies, the forecasting of air pollution has been of paramount importance. As a precaution, the air pollution forecast is the basis for taking effective pollution control measures, and accurate forecasting of air pollution has become an important task...
April 17, 2018: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Terry P Hughes, James T Kerry, Andrew H Baird, Sean R Connolly, Andreas Dietzel, C Mark Eakin, Scott F Heron, Andrew S Hoey, Mia O Hoogenboom, Gang Liu, Michael J McWilliam, Rachel J Pears, Morgan S Pratchett, William J Skirving, Jessica S Stella, Gergely Torda
Global warming is rapidly emerging as a universal threat to ecological integrity and function, highlighting the urgent need for a better understanding of the impact of heat exposure on the resilience of ecosystems and the people who depend on them 1 . Here we show that in the aftermath of the record-breaking marine heatwave on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 2 , corals began to die immediately on reefs where the accumulated heat exposure exceeded a critical threshold of degree heating weeks, which was 3-4 °C-weeks...
April 18, 2018: Nature
Jomkwan Yothasamut, Laura Camfield, Michael Pfeil
PURPOSE: Thai government agencies and the business sector have been promoting milk consumption. Considering the robust and continual movements by those actors to promote milk consumption among children in Thailand at the national level, this study aims to investigate milk-consumption practices and values towards milk consumption at pre-school, family and individual levels. METHODS: This cross-sectional qualitative study employs observation and interview methods, along with the Ecological System Theory as a framework...
December 2018: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Krisztina Nagy, Ágnes Ábrahám, Juan E Keymer, Péter Galajda
Microfluidics is an emerging technology that is used more and more in biology experiments. Its capabilities of creating precisely controlled conditions in cellular dimensions make it ideal to explore cell-cell and cell-environment interactions. Thus, a wide spectrum of problems in microbial ecology can be studied using engineered microbial habitats. Moreover, artificial microfluidic ecosystems can serve as model systems to test ecology theories and principles that apply on a higher level in the hierarchy of biological organization...
2018: Frontiers in Microbiology
Timothy Hodgetts
Connectivity is a central concept in contemporary geographies of nature, but the concept is often understood and utilised in plural ways. This is problematic because of the separation, rather than the confusion, of these different approaches. While the various understandings of connectivity are rarely considered as working together, the connections between them have significant implications. This paper thus proposes re-thinking connectivity as a "multiple". It develops a taxonomy of existing connectivity concepts from the fields of biogeography and landscape ecology, conservation biology, socio-economic systems theory, political ecology and more-than-human geography...
March 2018: Area
Scott L Morello, Ron J Etter
Understanding the role of larger-scale processes in modulating the assembly, structure, and dynamics of communities is critical for forecasting the effects of climate-change and managing ecosystems. Developing this comprehensive perspective is difficult though, because species interactions are complex, interdependent, and dynamic through space and time. Typically, experiments focus on tractable subsets of interactions that will be most critical to investigate and explain shifts in communities, but qualitatively base these choices on experience, natural history, and theory...
March 31, 2018: Ecology
George A Atiim, Susan J Elliott, Ann E Clarke, Craig Janes
Policy makers and health geographers are increasingly intrigued by the global rise of chronic disease. While current engagement coalesce around cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes, very little attention has been given to other important chronic conditions: e.g., allergic disease. Concerns about how health is shaped by context and experienced in place can provide important insights to understand the trajectory of allergic disease and inform policy especially in developing countries experiencing an epidemiologic transition...
March 27, 2018: Health & Place
Christopher F Clements, Arpat Ozgul
In the face of global biodiversity declines, predicting the fate of biological systems is a key goal in ecology. One popular approach is the search for early warning signals (EWSs) based on alternative stable states theory. In this review, we cover the theory behind nonlinearity in dynamic systems and techniques to detect the loss of resilience that can indicate state transitions. We describe the research done on generic abundance-based signals of instability that are derived from the phenomenon of critical slowing down, which represent the genesis of EWSs research...
March 30, 2018: Ecology Letters
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