On the use of multi-species NK models to explore ecosystem development

Swanack, T.M., Grant, W.E., & Fath, B.D. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9440-6842 (2008). On the use of multi-species NK models to explore ecosystem development. Ecological Modelling 218 (3) 367-374. 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2008.07.022.

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The search for general laws governing the co-evolution of ecological communities, and the resulting trends in the development of ecosystem structure has led researchers down at least three broad paths, exploring: (1) thermodynamics, (2) networks, and (3) species assemblages. Recently, Fath and Grant [Fath, B.D., Grant, W.E., 2007. Ecosystems as evolutionary complex systems: network analysis of fitness models. Environmental Modelling & Software 22, 693-700] suggested the possibility of linking ecological network analysis to multi-species NK models of self-organizing systems [Kauffman, S.A., 1993. The Origins of Order: Self-organization and Selection in Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 709p.] to explore the dynamics of ecosystem development. In this paper, we describe modifications to the multi-species NK model that allow connectedness among species, or ecosystem structure, to evolve during a simulation, examine the robustness of model behavior to changes in the number of both species and genes included in the system, and use the modified model to simulate ecosystem development over 200 generations for each of 23 combinations of number of species and number of genes in the system. Simulated system connectedness evolved noticeably and quickly to an intermediate, but lower than expected, level as a consequence of system self-organizational processes strong enough to override the random processes at work in the system, and general trends in relative system connectedness were robust to changes in the number of species and the number of genes included in the system. We compare these trends in system connectivity to those generated by the Tangled Nature model [Laird, S., Jensen, H.J., 2007. Correlation, selection and the evolution of species networks. Ecological Modelling 209, 149-156] and to those based on field data on food webs, and comment on future work using multi-species NK models to explore ecosystem development.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ecological goal functions; Ecological networks; Ecosystem development; Ecosystem evolution; Fitness landscapes; NK models; Self-organizing systems; System connectivity
Research Programs: Dynamic Systems (DYN)
Bibliographic Reference: Ecological Modelling; 218(3-4):367-374 [2008]
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:40
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:20
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/8501

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