With human activities drastically altering natural habitats and impacting future climatic conditions, there is an increasing need for understanding the ecology of interactions between plants, animals, and the environment, as well as how plants and animals adapt through evolutionary change. As these systems often have many complex dependencies, precise representations using the language of mathematics are often helpful to elucidate dependencies and test hypothesis. The study of ecology and evolution is also important for understanding the natural world that we are all part of.
Researchers at IceLab address questions in ecology and evolution by developing mathematical models. The models are interfaced with experimental or observational data and studied through a combination of analytical and computational methods. Although most research thus far has focused on questions in ecology and evolution, the techniques used are general and can be applied to many other areas as well, such as forestry, fisheries, social sciences and economics. The research is often done in interdisciplinary constellations with collaborators from all around the world.
As an example of ongoing projects, we are developing lake-ecosystem models as part of the larger research project “Climate change induced regime shifts in northern lake ecosystems” funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Here, the aim is to describe how biotic factors such as phytoplankton, benthic plankton, benthic grazers, and consumers at higher trophic levels interact with abiotic factors such as light availability, nutrient availability and lake morphology to determine lake productivity, biotic composition and carbon sequestration. The developed models are validated with observational data and used, among other ends, to assess the potential for regime shifts.