The discovery promises for the first time to address the enormous complexities of the natural world with the powerful tools of advanced mathematics which, until now, have been of limited use in the study of many natural resource issues. Existing mathematical approaches have often been relegated to the sidelines, in favor of time-consuming and costly experiments or trial-and-error management.
The findings are being published in the journal American Naturalist and are co-authored by Jeffrey Dambacher, Hans Luh, Hiram Li and Philippe Rossignol.
This research should have major implications for the management of natural resources around the world, said Philippe Rossignol, a professor of fisheries and wildlife at OSU. Were going to be able to apply mathematics to predict what might happen with a great deal more certainty than ever before. It could significantly improve the ability of ecologists, land managers and other scientists to address many issues, anything from the clarity of Crater Lake to fisheries management or emerging diseases.
OSU researchers are already using the new approaches and formulas described in this research to tackle problems from invasive species in Yaquina Bay to the ecological impact of bullfrogs and the stability of an Oregon sea urchin fishery. But the concepts are so useful and so broad, the scientists say, that these projects are barely scratching the surface of this technologys potential.
This new insight in ecological science began when OSU researchers were struggling to resolve a mathematical paradox first suggested in 1973 by a famous ecologist named Robert May, who produced a mathematical theory
Contact: Phillippe Rossignol
Oregon State University