Bio-modelling seminar by Nikos Alexandridis: Biological traits help build mechanistic models of benthic biodiversity
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Welcome to a talk in the bio-modelling seminar series, which is a collaboration between the mathematics, biology and physics departments. The talk is intended for a mixed audience from these departments.
Abstract: Benthic macroinvertebrates are part of complex networks of interactions. The spatial and temporal scales of the processes that form the basis for these interactions have traditionally restricted their empirical investigation. The application of a mechanistic modelling framework for the analysis of the system seems fitting, but it requires the derivation of a few model entities with a clear functional role. We collected species biological traits and employed the emergent group hypothesis to define model entities in a systematic and objective manner. The resulting grouping was tested against theoretical expectations and the results supported its ability to represent functional diversity. The lack of detailed knowledge for the attribution of relationships among functional components was addressed with the help of ecological theories that predict the existence of trade-offs operating at both large and small spatial scales. In a first conception of the system, these trade-offs were incorporated in the form of general rules of interaction into qualitative models of the functional groups. Still, the goal of studying the temporally and spatially explicit behaviour of benthic biodiversity could only be reached through an approach with the same characteristics. An individual-based model was, therefore, developed, transferring the rules of interaction from the qualitative models to a dynamic and spatially explicit framework. Initial results demonstrate its potential to reproduce benthic biodiversity patterns.