
Theoretical ecology is the scientific discipline devoted to the study of ecological systems using theoretical methods such as simple conceptual models, mathematical models, computational simulations, and advanced data analysis. Effective models improve understanding of the natural world by revealing how the dynamics of species populations are often based on fundamental biological conditions and processes. Further, the field aims to unify a diverse range of empirical observations by assuming that common, mechanistic processes generate observable phenomena across species and ecological environments. Based on biologically realistic assumptions, theoretical ecologists are able to uncover novel, nonintuitive insights about natural processes. Theoretical results are often verified by empirical and observational studies, revealing the power of theoretical methods in both predicting and understanding the noisy, diverse biological world. The field is broad and includes foundations in applied mathematics, computer science, biology, statistical physics, genetics, chemistry, evolution, and conservation biology. Theoretical ecology aims to explain a diverse range of phenomena in the life sciences, such as population growth and dynamics, fisheries, competition, evolutionary theory, epidemiology, animal behavior and group dynamics, food webs, ecosystems, spatial ecology, and the effects of climate change. Theoretical ecology has further benefited from the advent of fast computing power, allowing the analysis and visualization of largescale computational simulations of ecological phenomena. Importantly, these modern tools provide quantitative predictions about the effects of human induced environmental change on a diverse variety of ecological phenomena, such as: species invasions, climate change, the effect of fishing and hunting on food network stability, and the global carbon cycle. ==Modelling approaches== As in most other sciences, mathematical models form the foundation of modern ecological theory. * Phenomenological models: distill the functional and distributional shapes from observed patterns in the data, or researchers decide on functions and distribution that are flexible enough to match the patterns they or others (field or experimental ecologists) have found in the field or through experimentation.〔Bolker BM (2008) (''Ecological models and data in R'' ) Princeton University Press, pages 6–9. ISBN 9780691125220.〕 * Mechanistic models: model the underlying processes directly, with functions and distributions that are based on theoretical reasoning about ecological processes of interest.〔 Ecological models can be deterministic or stochastic.〔 * Deterministic models always evolve in the same way from a given starting point. They represent the average, expected behavior of a system, but lack random variation. Many system dynamics models are deterministic. * Stochastic models allow for the direct modeling of the random perturbations that underlie real world ecological systems. Markov chain models are stochastic. Species can be modelled in continuous or discrete time.〔Soetaert K and Herman PMJ (2009) (''A practical guide to ecological modelling'' ) Springer. ISBN 9781402086236.〕 * Continuous time is modelled using differential equations. * Discrete time is modelled using difference equations. These model ecological processes that can be described as occurring over discrete time steps. Matrix algebra is often used to investigate the evolution of agestructured or stagestructured populations. The Leslie matrix, for example, mathematically represents the discrete time change of an age structured population.〔Grant WE (1986) ''Systems analysis and simulation in wildlife and fisheries sciences.'' Wiley, University of Minnesota, page 223. ISBN 9780471892366.〕〔Jopp F (2011) (''Modeling Complex Ecological Dynamics'' ) Springer, page 122. ISBN 9783642050282.〕〔Burk AR (2005) (''New trends in ecology research'' ) Nova Publishers, page 136. ISBN 9781594543791.〕 Models are often used to describe real ecological reproduction processes of single or multiple species. These can be modelled using stochastic branching processes. Examples are the dynamics of interacting populations (predation competition and mutualism), which, depending on the species of interest, may best be modeled over either continuous or discrete time. Other examples of such models may be found in the field of mathematical epidemiology where the dynamic relationships that are to be modeled are hostpathogen interactions.〔 Bifurcation theory is used to illustrate how small changes in parameter values can give rise to dramatically different long run outcomes, a mathematical fact that may be used to explain drastic ecological differences that come about in qualitatively very similar systems.〔Ma T and Wang S (2005) (''Bifurcation theory and applications'' ) World Scientific. ISBN 9789812562876.〕 Logistic maps are polynomial mappings, and are often cited as providing archetypal examples of how chaotic behaviour can arise from very simple nonlinear dynamical equations. The maps were popularized in a seminal 1976 paper by the theoretical ecologist Robert May. The difference equation is intended to capture the two effects of reproduction and starvation. In 1930, R.A. Fisher published his classic ''The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection'', which introduced the idea that frequencydependent fitness brings a strategic aspect to evolution, where the payoffs to a particular organism, arising from the interplay of all of the relevant organisms, are the number of this organism' s viable offspring. In 1961, Richard Lewontin applied game theory to evolutionary biology in his ''Evolution and the Theory of Games'', followed closely by John Maynard Smith, who in his seminal 1972 paper, “Game Theory and the Evolution of Fighting", defined the concept of the evolutionarily stable strategy. Because ecological systems are typically nonlinear, they often cannot be solved analytically and in order to obtain sensible results, nonlinear, stochastic and computational techniques must be used. One class of computational models that is becoming increasingly popular are the agentbased models. These models can simulate the actions and interactions of multiple, heterogeneous, organisms where more traditional, analytical techniques are inadequate. Applied theoretical ecology yields results which are used in the real world. For example, optimal harvesting theory draws on optimization techniques developed in economics, computer science and operations research, and is widely used in fisheries.〔Supriatna AK (1998) (''Optimal harvesting theory for predatorprey metapopulations'' ) University of Adelaide, Department of Applied Mathematics.〕 抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』 ■ウィキペディアで「theoretical ecology」の詳細全文を読む スポンサード リンク
