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Ecological Modelling and Ecophysics


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: From growth equations for a single species to Lotka-Volterra equations for two interacting species
Chapter 2: Challenge - Supporting farmers' decision making by modelling livestock agroecosystems in terms of predator-prey equations
Chapter 3: The Lotka-Volterra generalized model for multispecies communities
Chapter 4: Challenge - Combining experiments and mathematical modelling to predict optimal combinations of perennial crop mixtures
Chapter 5: Niche Theory
Chapter 6: Challenge - Understanding phytoplankton dynamics in coastal communities from resource competition
Part II: The Evolution of Cooperation
Chapter 7: Mutualism and mutualistic networks
Chapter 8: Challenge - Compartmental modelling, niche overlap and its connection with traits
Chapter 9: Game Theory: Species as Strategies and Niche Games
Chapter 10: Challenge - Dissecting empirical interaction matrices across different taxa and predicting their fate
Part III: Ecophysics
Chapter 11: The Maximum Entropy method and the MaxEnt Theory of Ecology
Chapter 12: Challenge - Getting insight into the dynamics of tropical forests
Chapter 13: Catastrophe and Early Warnings. Analogies with thermodynamics
Chapter 14: Challenge - Using cellular automata to anticipate desertification in arid lands and catastrophic eutrophication shifts in lakes

About the Author

Hugo Fort is a Professor at the Physics Department of the Faculty of Sciences of the Republic University (Montevideo, Uruguay) and Head of the Complex System Group. After earning his PhD in physics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 1994, he conducted research on quantum field theory. Since 2001, his scientific interests evolved from theoretical physics to complex systems and mathematical modelling applied to problems in biology, with a focus in ecology & evolution. A main goal of his research is to develop quantitative methods and tools for a wide variety of practical problems in fields ranging from agro-economy to environmental and real-time evolution. Fort is currently involved in several international research collaborations pursuing used-inspired basic science. A central aim is to connect ecological and evolutionary problems with well-studied phenomena in physics to gain deeper insight into these problems, to identify novel questions and problems, and to get access to alternative powerful computational tools.


Fort's writing is engaging while still maintaining high standards of rigorous thinking. The examples all help pin the abstract mathematics to the natural world. If I have a quibble with the book, it is not with Fort's writing, but with the publisher's assembling of the manuscript. First, the pages are not numbered consecutively from 1 to 300. Rather, the pages of each chapter are numbered with chapter designation and page number within the chapter. In every theoretical-application pair of chapters, the theoretical chapter is numbered numerically followed by the related application chapter beginning with A. Thus, at the bottom of the pages we have for example page 3-4 as the fourth page of Chapter 3 (which is actually the seventh chapter of the book) and A3-4 as the fourth page of the application chapter (A3) following Chapter 3. If this sounds confusing, it is; this clumsy pagination makes it rather difficult to find your way through the book. Secondly, the book lacks an index so we cannot find, for example, all the different ways that ideas such as eigenvalues are used throughout the book. But these are minor annoyances that can hopefully be corrected in afuture edition or printing. It should not deter mathematicians and physicists who are interested in ecological systems and mathematical ecologists who would like to read a fresh approach to classical and current problems from studying this book and thinking deeply about the issues it raises.

John Pastor, Journal of Ecological Modelling (Elsevier). -- John Pastor * Journal of Ecological Modelling (Elsevier). *

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