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Reconciling theories of biodiversity patterns


The current biodiversity crisis is leading to an increasing need to understand the basic rules governing the diversity of life on Earth, and the processes that generate and maintain it. However, ecological systems are extremely complex, and unpredictable unless we begin to study patterns and processes occurring and acting at large spatial and temporal scales. Indeed, many macroscopic regularities have been revealed using huge datasets detailing the spatial occurrences of organisms across whole continents. A number of separate explanations have been offered for these regularities, although their interconnectedness implies that they probably have emerged from a few universal rules.

In consequence, attempts to build a universal, concise theory of biodiversity patterns have emerged over the last decade. Empirical tests of such theory necessitate combining available data with the exact formulation of models, their assumptions and predictions. This cannot be done without close cooperation between experts from different disciplines, namely biology and mathematics and/or statistical physics, where appropriate model building has been developed. The aim of this project is to carry out complex tests of various models of biodiversity patterns and dynamics using large-scale data sets, to reveal which processes are particularly important for biodiversity emergence and maintenance.

The cooperation between the host institution, which manages extensive biodiversity data sets, and the applicant, trained in mathematics and physics and able to perform complex simulation and analytical models, provides a unique opportunity to achieve this goal, and to contribute to deeper understanding of the rules governing the biodiversity on Earth.

Call for proposal

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Alfred Denny Building, Western Bank
United Kingdom