Eduardo Colombo

Princeton University, USA

Biology From Images: The mapping from the population to the individual level


Ecological and biological systems are, in their essence, composed of a complex and complicated web of interaction and processes, making its first-principle description not always straightforward to draw. However, when the system emergent states have sufficient complexity, it can communicate information regarding the details of interaction at the individual-level. Examples of key signatures on the macroscopic state are the visually striking spatial patterns produced by vegetation or bacteria and nontrivial statistics. In this presentation, we will start by constructing a minimal model for the population dynamics and then move on to decipher what is happening at the individual level by looking at snapshots of the population distribution. Next, we will focus on how reliable this kind of mapping actually is. Extending our discussion to the context of metapopulation dynamics, we will see how heterogeneity at small scales can mimic large scale signatures commonly associated with long-range correlations – a fact that can blur our interpretation of an underlying low-level dynamics.

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