Wednesday, 5 April 2017

BioMaths Colloquium - 07/04/2017

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2016/17

07 April 2017 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Predator-prey biomass relationships: a role for predator density dependence?

Dr David Murrell

(Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research

University College London, UK


Our BioMaths Colloquium Series for the spring term starts with a seminar by Dr David Murrell from the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London. David is a mathematical ecologist broadly interested in understanding and modelling the key biological processes that maintain biodiversity. Of particular interest are highly plant communities, such as tropical forests, but David's research ranges from bacteria to protists to vertebrates. Related to this, a specific line of research resolves around the processes determining species abundances across space and time.

Recent empirical research has shown that increasing ecosystem productivity leads to an increase in the proportion of biomass at lower trophic levels. Thus as prey species increase in abundance/biomass their consumers also increase but at a much reduced rate. Indeed the general empirical results link predator biomass (P) to prey biomass (N) as P ~ N^k, where k<1 for most ecosystems studied. Surprisingly, ecological theory does not provide an immediate answer as to how this relationship may occur. 
I will consider the potential roles for density dependence operating at the level of the predator/consumer to generate these sub-linear increases in biomass at higher trophic levels. Through analyses of simple ecological models I will outline some criteria for generating the empirical pattern and compare these predictions to the rare cases where the models have been applied to data.

The discussions will continue over biscuits and tea/coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!

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