Abstract: A metacommunity can be defined as a set of communities that are linked by migration, and extinction and recolonization. In metacommunities, evolution can occur not only by processes that occur within communities such as drift and individual selection, but also by among-community processes, such as divergent selection owing to random differences among communities in species composition, and group and community-level selection. The effect of these among-community-level processes depends on the pattern of migration among communities. Migrating units may be individuals (migrant pool model), groups of individuals (single-species propagule pool model) or multi-species associations (multi-species propagule pool model). The most interesting case is the multi-species propagule pool model. Although this pattern of migration may a priori seem rare, it becomes more plausible in small well-defined ‘communities’ such as symbiotic associations between two or a few species. Theoretical models and experimental studies show that community selection is potentially an effective evolutionary force. Such evolution can occur either through genetic changes within species or through changes in the species composition of the communities. Although laboratory studies show that community selection can be important, little is known about how important it is in natural populations.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).