The 2015 AMMCS-CAIMS Congress

Interdisciplinary AMMCS Conference Series

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada | June 7-12, 2015

AMMCS-CAIMS 2015 Plenary Talk

Species Coexistence in Stochastic Environments: A Mathematical Perspective

Sebastian Schreiber (University of California, Davis)

Stochastic fluctuations in temperature, precipitation and a host of other environmental factors occur at multiple spatial and temporal scales. As the survival and reproduction of organisms, whether they be plants, animals, or viruses, depend on these environmental factors, these stochastic fluctuations often drive fluctuations in population abundances. This simple observation leads to a fundamental question in population biology. Namely, “under what conditions do stochastic environmental fluctuations hinder or facilitate the maintenance of biodiversity?” This question is particularly pressing in light of global climate models predicting increasing temporal variation in many climatic variables over the next century.

One fruitful approach to tackling this question from population biology is the development and analysis of models accounting for nonlinear feedbacks among species, population structure, and environmental stochasticity. In this talk, I will discuss progress in the development of a mathematical theory for stochastic coexistence where the dynamics of the interacting species are encoded by random difference equations and coexistence corresponds to the limit points of empirical measures being bounded away from an extinction set. I will illustrate the theory with empirical based examples involving checkerspot butterflies, Kansas prairies, and coastal dunes.

Sebastian J. Schreiber is a Professor of Ecology and Evolution and member of the Center of Population Biology at the University of California, Davis. Prior to coming to Davis, he was an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the College of William and Mary and Western Washington University. Professor Schreiber’s research on the development and application of methods in stochastic processes and nonlinear dynamics to ecology, evolution, and epidemiology has been supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau for Land Management, and the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service. He has authored nearly eighty scientific papers in peer-reviewed mathematics and biology journals. Professor Schreiber is currently on the editorial boards of five research journals including Ecology and the Journal of Mathematical Biology.