Problems of Boundedness in Modeling Ecological Systems

in Unruly Complexity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780226790350
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226790398 | DOI:
Problems of Boundedness in Modeling Ecological Systems

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This chapter explores the significance of unruly complexity. It attempts to find a stability–complexity connection that can be viewed in relation to the long-standing problem of accounting for the structure, organization, and possibility of change—in short, for ongoing restructuring. The chapter considers the search during the 1970s and 1980s for a significant relationship between complexity and stability. MacArthur proposed that “the amount of choice that the energy has in following the paths up through the food web is a measure of the stability of the community.” The review reported in the chapter has been conducted in the spirit of MacArthur—namely, by exploring the qualitative behavior of simple mathematical models in the hope of finding some theoretical unity among the disparate facts of ecology. The terms of the models are the numbers of organisms in each population and interaction: competition, predation, and parasitism.

Keywords: unruly complexity; stability; restructuring; MacArthur; ecology

Chapter.  8917 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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