Theoretical Ecology

Theoretical Ecology

In the field of Theoretical Ecology, our aim is to gain understanding on the functioning and time evolution of ecological systems, as well as their responses to anthropogenic disruptions. We study the outcome of direct and indirect interactions among species and their consequences for the collective behavior of communities. For these purposes, we construct, analyze and interpret the outcome of mathematical models of different kinds, according to the specific problems at hand:


Differential equation models, matrix population models, qualitative models based on the community matrix and represented by digraphs (loop analysis) and complex network models including food webs and mutualistic (e.g. plant-pollinator) networks.


We take part of the view that ecological systems cannot be deeply understood through the study of their individual parts, but they should be analyzed considering their multiple components and the many intricate interactions among them. This consideration forces us to study ecological ensembles as complex systems, using the machinery of dynamical systems theory, graph theory and complexity theory to gain insights about the functioning of natural ecosystems.



Some topics that guide our current research in theoretical ecology are:

  • Effects of phenotypic plasticity, adaptive behavior and trait-mediated indirect effects on the dynamics of population and communities
  • Relation between structure and stability of complex ecological networks
  • Plasticity of network connections (topological plasticity) and its consequences on community dynamics.
  • The effects of pollutants on the structure and stability of multispecific systems
  • The effects of invasions and extinctions on the structure and evolution of ecological networks
  • Effects of organisms' dormant stages on the dynamics of ecological networks.
  • How phenological variation in recruitment shapes the dynamics of mutualistic networks.
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