The models of mathematical ecology have often been constructed with a view towards their analytic tractability and, as a consequence, have been criticized frequently on the grounds of their lack of realism. It is argued here that recent trends in ecological modeling have been away from abstraction towards the incorporation of more mechanistic detail. This detail may include such features of natural systems as spatial heterogeneity, the demographic structure of populations, the dependence of population parameters on varying environmental conditions, and the physiology and behavior of individual organisms. Frequently, such apparent details are crucial in determining population and community dynamics. This is illustrated by models of the 'match-mismatch' hypothesis of recruitment success in fish populations, plant competition and succession, and stability of food webs. Great progress is likely to be made in understanding and predicting the dynamics of aquatic populations and food webs as models come to be based more on an appropriate level of mechanistic detail.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecological Modeling