Quantitative Biology / Gene Expression in Development & Disease Seminar

Friday, 08 February 2013 at 11:30am

Room 1400 Biomedical and Physical Sciences Bldg.

Refreshments at 11:15

Speaker:  Ethan White, Quantitative Ecology and Macroecology, Utah State University

Title:  Testing a General Theory of Macroecology Using Big Data

Macroecology involves characterizing and explaining statistical patterns of the abundance, distribution, and diversity of species. These patterns can yield insights into the processes governing the behavior of ecological systems and allow predictions to be made in the absence of detailed understanding of the processes structuring an ecosystem. I will discuss research in my lab testing a general theory of macroecology, the Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology, which posits that many macroecological patterns are emergent statistical phenomena. If this theory is correct, it would mean that the form of many common patterns in ecology could be unlocked simply by knowing the total number of individuals and species in a system. To provide the most general test of the theory possible we compare it to large ecological datasets containing thousands of sites and species, and millions of individuals.