Center for BioComplexity News – Winter 2015

Contributed by Sandra Milburn for PEI ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

New CBC Postdoctoral Research Fellows

The Center for BioComplexity welcomes a new group of postdocs with a wide range of expertise and interests:

  • Matthieu R. Barbier (Ph.D., Université Paris Sud) is working on bridging the gap between mathematical models and approaches from the social sciences, especially in problems of common-pool resources at the boundary of theoretical ecology and economics, with applications to fisheries.
  • George I. Hagstrom (Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin) is concentrating on predicting phytoplankton stoichiometry and its feedbacks on global biogeochemical cycles, as well as on understanding how individual, microscopic behavior rules give rise to collective, macroscopic phenomena.
  • Frantz H. Jensen (Ph.D., Aarhus University) is investigating coordination and collective decision-making in small groups of dolphins and pilot whales to understand how social information shapes movement and foraging decisions of individuals.
  • Emily Klein (Ph.D., University of New Hampshire) is using agent-based modeling coupled with qualitative information to explore the motivations and behavior of common-pool resource users, focusing on marine fishermen.
  • Dane Klinger (Ph.D., Stanford University) is examining the physical and biological limitations of farming fish in the ocean and how increased aquaculture production might alter fisheries and international seafood markets.
  • Karla Kvaternik (Ph.D., University of Toronto) is exploring the utility of control-theoretic and dynamical-systems concepts in the development and analysis of complex-adaptive system models.
  • Pawel P. Romanczuk (Ph.D. Humboldt University, Berlin) is focusing on the application of statistical physics and stochastic processes to biological and ecological problems, particularly in the emergence of collective behavior in biology (swarming) and related problems of pattern formation and collective decision-making.
  • Anieke van Leeuwen (Ph.D., University of Amsterdam), who will join CBC this summer, is interested in the size-structured dynamics of animal population and community models, from predator-prey to parasite-host systems, in which the explicit energy flow from individual to population level is included.

Recent CBC Publications

Other CBC news includes several groundbreaking publications. CBC director Simon A. Levin, economist and Nobel Prize recipient Kenneth J. Arrow, and biologist and demographer Paul R. Ehrlich (both at Stanford University) published a paper on managing linked ecosystems and socioeconomic systems and the unique challenges faced with complex adaptive systems (Environment and Development Economics: Essays in Honor of Sir Partha Dasgupta, 2014).

In addition, CBC researchers Thomas Van Boeckel, Simon A. Levin, and Ramanan Laximnaryan, along with Princeton population biologist Bryan Grenfell, recently published the results of their work on antibiotic resistance in Lancet Infectious Diseases (2014), and have another paper on the topic soon to appearTo read more about their work, see the Princeton Home Page archives:

Lastly, an interdisciplinary team of scientists, including Levin, affiliated CBC faculty member Juan A. Bonachela (University of Strathyclyde, UK), and Princeton professors Corina Tarnita, Robert Pringle and Kelly Caylor, have published a paper that was featured on the cover of Science (February 2015), which reveals that in the world’s semi-arid regions, termites increase ecosystem resilience, thereby reducing the risk of these places ending up as deserts.  To read more about their research, see the Princeton Home Page archives: “Tiny Termites Can Hold Back Deserts by Creating Oases of Life.”

CBC Hosts Nordic Center of Excellence Planning Meeting

On January 4-5, 2015, the CBC hosted a meeting to develop a proposal for a new Nordic Center of Excellence that would be funded by NordForsk. Organized by CBC affiliate Anne Maria Eikeset (University of Oslo, Norway) and Simon A. Levin, this meeting was attended by renowned scientists and social scientists from Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Iceland, Russia, and the United States. The proposed center would feature an international team of researchers drawn from ecology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science.  It would be devoted to examining the unique set of problems brought to bear on Arctic marine and coastal social-ecological systems under climate change.

Photo 1
Tuna pens off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. Photo by Dane Klinger. Klinger is working on estimating the production potential of offshore aquaculture. Most aquaculture is currently land-based, but future production will likely expand into the ocean to meet growing seafood demand.


Photo 2
Dried cod near Henningsvaer, Norway. The new Nordic Center of Excellence proposed by Eikeset would study such traditional fishing villages. Courtesy of Anne Maria Eikeset.