The devil is in the detail: theory for empirical model systems.
Bjornstad, Ottar*,1, Amarasekare, Priyanga2, 1 Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA2 University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
ABSTRACT- The foundational theories of ecology, epidemiology and behavioral ecology have been taught to every undergraduate and graduate student during the last half century. The underlying models have also motivated numerous experiments, both historical and recent, as well as detailed observations on particular empirical systems. These classic strategic models, many of which date back to the 1920s through 1960s, offer qualitative predictions that match data from a variety of systems. However, many of the recent advances in theoretical ecology have come from specific case studies involving clever experimentation and/or detailed field observations. We overview (i) the utility of the foundational models in understanding the ecological dynamics of specific systems and (ii) discuss how new conceptual and theoretical insights have been reached by embracing the 'idiosyncrasies' of particular systems from behavior, through biocontrol / epidemiology, to community ecology.
Key words: Theoretical ecology, Epidemiology, Model systems
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