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Summer School "Ecology and Society: Frontiers and Boundaries" / 3 - 7 June 2019

Imports and exports of models in ecology: what works and what doesn’t

Last update Wednesday 23 March 2016

Ecology has a rich history of integrating knowledge from multiple scientific disciplines, such as chemistry, mathematics, information theory, economics, ... Taking a historical perspective, from Lotka and Volterra to modern-day ecologists, I investigate how some key models and ideas imported in ecology from other disciplines fared in the subsequent ecological literature.

Using these lessons from the past, I try to pinpoint ways that make the transfer of concepts from one discipline to the next useful, and eventually successful - as well as arguably unforeseeable mistakes. Finally, I scrutinize ecological concepts and models that are currently proposed to help other disciplines, especially social sciences aiming at understanding global changes, and I attempt to use past lessons to predict their (likely) fate.