Johann Bernoulli Stichting voor de Wiskunde te Groningen

Johann Bernoulli lezing 30

(maandag 29 april 2019, 19.30 uur, Aula Academiegebouw)

Franjo Weissing (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

The complex dynamics of ecology and evolution

In a time of global climate change, it is of considerable importance to predict the capacity of organisms to cope with this change and to adapt to changed conditions. Mathematical and computational models are indispensable tools for this. Yet, it is by no means clear whether, and to what extent, the course and outcome of ecological and evolutionary processes are predictable. By means of simple models I will illustrate that ecological and evolutionary dynamics are much more intricate than envisaged 50 years ago. Interestingly, empirical evidence is often in striking contrast to the predictions of well-established eco-evolutionary models. For example, many more species coexist in natural systems than predicted by theory, and evolution proceeds much faster and in a more predictable manner than anticipated by evolutionary models. Based on a discussion of potential reasons for this discrepancy, I will conclude that we better leave traditional approaches based on “Ockham’s razor” behind us and instead base eco- evolutionary predictions on mechanistic models with many degrees of freedom (even if these models are no longer tractable mathematically).

Laudatio: Arjan van der Schaft (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)