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Unruly ComplexityEcology, Interpretation, Engagement$
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Peter J. Taylor

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226790350

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226790398.001.0001

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Problems of Boundedness in Modeling Ecological Systems

Problems of Boundedness in Modeling Ecological Systems

(p.3) 1 Problems of Boundedness in Modeling Ecological Systems
Unruly Complexity
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the significance of unruly complexity. It attempts to find a stability–complexity connection that can be viewed in relation to the long-standing problem of accounting for the structure, organization, and possibility of change—in short, for ongoing restructuring. The chapter considers the search during the 1970s and 1980s for a significant relationship between complexity and stability. MacArthur proposed that “the amount of choice that the energy has in following the paths up through the food web is a measure of the stability of the community.” The review reported in the chapter has been conducted in the spirit of MacArthur—namely, by exploring the qualitative behavior of simple mathematical models in the hope of finding some theoretical unity among the disparate facts of ecology. The terms of the models are the numbers of organisms in each population and interaction: competition, predation, and parasitism.

Keywords:   unruly complexity, stability, restructuring, MacArthur, ecology

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