Towards a Unified Theory in Ecology

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Global IP Fellows Meeting

Pablo Marquet
Professor, Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Towards a Unified Theory in Ecology
This talk is based on the premise that the diversity of the living can be reduced to a few basic principles at work since the emergence of life in our planet, and whose identification will help us to understand the way ecosystems work and change through time and space. The vexing complexity of ecosystems, however, has to some extent precluded the identification of such principles leading to a proliferation of patterns and ad hoc explanations (giving the impression that first principles are the fictional pursue of researchers suffering from acute physics envy). Recent developments, however, associated to Scaling and Neutral theories in ecology do provide evidence that such principles do indeed exist. In this talk, I will focus on one of such principles (zero-sum dynamics), which provides the basic symmetric template to understand the emergence of diversity and dynamics. We claim it provides a good point of departure for achieving a unified theory of ecology and biodiversity.