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Title: Maximum entropy models of ecosystem functioning

Using organism-level traits to deduce community-level relationships is a fundamental problem in theoretical ecology. This problem parallels the physical one of using particle properties to deduce macroscopic thermodynamic laws, which was successfully achieved with the development of statistical physics. Drawing on this parallel, theoretical ecologists from Lotka onwards have attempted to construct statistical mechanistic theories of ecosystem functioning. Jaynes’ broader interpretation of statistical mechanics, which hinges on the entropy maximisation algorithm (MaxEnt), is of central importance here because the classical foundations of statistical physics do not have clear ecological analogues (e.g. phase space, dynamical invariants). However, models based on the information theoretic interpretation of MaxEnt are difficult to interpret ecologically. Here I give a broad discussion of statistical mechanical models of ecosystem functioning and the application of MaxEnt in these models. Emphasising the sample frequency interpretation of MaxEnt, I show that MaxEnt can be used to construct models of ecosystem functioning which are statistical mechanical in the traditional sense using a savanna plant ecology model as an example.
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200 (Australia)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22390755
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Conference Proceedings; Journal Volume: 1636; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: MaxEnt 2013: 33. International Workshop on Bayesian Inference and Maximum Entropy Methods in Science and Engineering, Canberra, ACT (Australia), 15-20 Dec 2013; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; ALGORITHMS; DRAWING; ECOLOGY; ECOSYSTEMS; ENTROPY; M CODES; MATHEMATICAL MODELS; PHASE SPACE; SAVANNAS; STATISTICAL MECHANICS