Theoretical ecology without species

Mikhail Tikhonov Harvard University CMSA

Publications of CMSA of Harvard mathscidoc:1702.38050

Most of classical theoretical ecology is based on the assumption that organisms in a community can be naturally partitioned into groups of individuals that can be treated as identical. At the same time, mounting experimental evidence from studies of microbial communities raises the intriguing question whether this intuition is an accurate description of the microbial world. This work builds on Mac Arthur’s model of competitive coexistence on multiple resources to construct a framework that does not rely on postulated existence of species as fundamental ecological variables. In one parameter regime, effective “species” with a core and accessory genome naturally appear in this model as emergent concepts. However, the same model allows a smooth transition to a highly diverse regime where the species formalism becomes inadequate. An alternative description is proposed based on the dynamical modes of population fluctuations. This approach provides a naturally hierarchical description of community dynamics which is well-defined even when the species description breaks down. The relevance of this framework for understanding the complexity of naturally observed microbial communities is discussed.
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@inproceedings{mikhailtheoretical,
  title={Theoretical ecology without species},
  author={Mikhail Tikhonov},
  url={http://archive.ymsc.tsinghua.edu.cn/pacm_paperurl/20170207034650798533250},
}
Mikhail Tikhonov. Theoretical ecology without species. http://archive.ymsc.tsinghua.edu.cn/pacm_paperurl/20170207034650798533250.
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