Systems Ecology @ 

MIT & SFI

Understanding the (re)assembly of ecological systems


Ecological systems are formed by the collection of interacting populations (known as ecological community) in a given place  and time, exhibiting complex emergent behavior (not reducible to the individual populations). Each community forms feedback processes with the physical and chemical environment and regulates different ecosystem services and functions, such as soil formation, nutrient recycling, water purification, carbon sequestration, among others. Therefore, explaining and predicting the re(assembly) of ecological systems is a fundamental scientific problem, and underpins our ability to develop successful interventions in bio-restoration, bio-technologies, and bio-medicine. 

Our research is centered on understanding the possibilities (feasibility) of observing the emergence, transformation, and regeneration of ecological systems under environmental changes.

We use formal procedures of systems thinking, synthesis, and mathematical modeling. Formally, our work has been rooted on the notion of structural stability (the capacity of a system to display a particular behavior despite small perturbations to its dynamics) and uses tools as varied as: geometry, probability, population dynamics, statistical mechanics, information theory, metabolic scaling theory, homology, matrix theory, network theory, causal inference, and empirical dynamic modeling. 


Feasibility principle

(i) Every possible biological solution (e.g., ecological community) is feasible for a given set of environmental challenges.

(ii) Self-organization leads to solutions that are feasible for the largest set of local environmental challenges. 

Test it yourself: feasibilityR