Tuesday, August 4, 2009: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Mesilla, Albuquerque Convention Center
Evan H. Campbell Grant, US Geological Survey
William F. Fagan, University of Maryland
Winsor H. Lowe, University of Montana
The world is complex yet organized. Many challenges for ecosystem and species management, conservation, and human reliance on ecological services depend on our understanding of the relationship between organisms or ecosystem processes and spatial patterns and processes. Recent investigations of population dynamics and species interactions have used the tools of network theory to understand complex dynamics in a wide range of spatial and non-spatial networks. By focusing on the connections among species, individuals, habitats, and communities, we have advanced our understanding of how these complex systems function. Considerable work on complex systems has focused on ’node-based’ networks, such as food webs or metapopulations, where tools from network theory have been brought to bear to understand linkages among system components. However, in many areas of ecology, spatial networks with explicit branching geometry exist (e.g., stream architecture, transportation infrastructure, individual plants) and classical approaches from network theory are not applicable. Rapid progress on understanding complex systems will require simultaneously developing theory for the structure, dynamics, and function of dendritic ecological networks, and collecting empirical data explicitly designed to test this theory. By bringing together theoreticians and empiricists with shared interests in dendritic ecological networks, we seek to explore collaboratively a framework for a new view of ‘network ecology’.
The schedule will first, present real world problems and patterns in dendritic ecological networks and second, introduce existing network tools and theoretical work specifically focused on dendritic networks. The session will conclude with a summary of crucial gaps between empirical data and observed patterns, and theoretical tools and generalizations in these networks. We will suggest directions for the next steps in understanding the structure and function of this class of ecological networks. We also plan an informal evening discussion session to follow after the presentations, wherein opportunities for enhancing the interface between data and theory for dendritic networks will be discussed.