Meeting Summary: For the past 30 years, ecology has developed two complementary theoretical and empirical directions for studying the interactions among species and their dynamic consequences: coexistence theory and food-web theory. Both theories attempt to explain the maintenance of biological diversity, examining similar questions, such as: (1) Why do we regularly observe diverse communities, rather than having one or only a few species that dominate? (2) What ecological processes make diverse communities stable? Additionally, both coexistence and network theory compare ecosystem stability with different assemblages of species, with a focus on the role of species interactions in altering the expected diversity in a given ecosystem.
This workshop brings together James S. McDonnell and Santa Fe Institute Postdoctoral Fellows with expertise spanning ecological, evolutionary, and mathematical theory working in empirical systems ranging from microbial communities in pitcher plants to marine food-webs. Together, we will work to mathematically link coexistence theory and food-web theory. We will use aquatic and marine empirical systems for motivation, conceptual framing, and to test methodological advancements.