Understanding what is possible and what is not in ecological communities.



Twitter: @MIT_ecology

- Congratulations to the new Dr. Cenci! The group wishes him the best of lucks in his new adventure at DCI investment funds.
- Congratulations to Mohammad AlAdwani for successfully obtaining his Masters in Science by carrying out terrific work on functional responses!
- The group welcomes Pengjuan Zu (chemical ecologists), who will join us as a postdoc in December!

Our research program

The goal of the Structural Ecology Group is to understand and quantify the uncertainty (or risk) associated with the persistence of biological populations under changing biotic and abiotic environments. This uncertainty comes from two main sources: the unknown exact equations governing the dynamics of a population’s interactions with other populations and abiotic factors, and how and when environmental variations can change these dynamics.

To assess this uncertainty, the Group adopts both a probabilistic and a systems approach rooted on the notion of structural stability. Formally, a dynamical system is said to be structurally stable if the topology of the phase portrait is preserved under smooth changes of the vector field. Because is virtually impossible to know a priori all the changing biotic and biotic factors affecting the dynamics of biological populations, it is then necessary to quantify from a probabilistic point of view the range of conditions compatible with their persistence. In this line, the group develops novel parametric and nonparametric methods to estimate such conditions and to be able to understand and predict the behavior of entire ecological communities under environmental change.