Mathematical Ecology: A Century of Progress, and Challenges for the Next Century
Simon Levin, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The subject of theoretical ecology is an old and productive one, and has helped in the management of natural systems and infectious diseases. In the past several decades, much progress has been made through the extension of those approaches to dealing with climate change, biodiversity loss, and global health. Though many problems remain in those areas, we face new challenges today in finding ways to cooperate in managing our Global Commons. From behavioral and evolutionary perspectives, our societies display conflict of purpose or fitness across levels, leading to game-theoretic problems in understanding how cooperation emerges in Nature, and how it might be realized in dealing with problems of the Global Commons. This lecture will attempt to weave these topics together and both survey recent work, and offer challenges for how theory can contribute to open problems. The trends also mirror the trends within PEI, which has grown and continues to grow from its roots in science and engineering to broader issues in the social sciences, humanities and policy
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