IST Lunch Bunch

Tuesday November 17, 2015 12:00 PM

Chaos in a Bottle: Experimental Studies of Nonlinear Population Dynamics

Speaker: Robert Desharnais, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Los Angeles
Location: Annenberg 105

Mathematical modeling has a long history in the ecological sciences, but there are few studies which directly link model predictions with experimental results. This seminar will give an overview of a 20 year research program that uses microcosm experiments with flour beetles to explore nonlinear population dynamics. This work began with the development of a simple system of difference equations, called the LPA model (larva-pupa-adult model), which captures the important mechanisms that determine the dynamics of beetle populations. The LPA model was then used to make a variety of predictions which were tested using laboratory experiments. The nonlinear phenomena that were studied include transitions in dynamical behavior, chaos, the control of chaos, saddle node flybys, lattice effects, the inverse square root rule of demographic stochasticity, multiple attractors, phase shifts in population cycles, and ecological synchrony. This talk will provide an introduction to this research program and an overview of several of the research results.

Series IST Lunch Bunch

Contact: Diane Goodfellow at 626-797-2398 diane@cms.caltech.edu