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Spatial dynamics of coupled ecosystems

Most local ecosystems are coupled through spatial flows of inorganic nutrients, dead organic matter and living organisms. These spatial flows can strongly affect the dynamics and functioning of coupled ecosystems, but knowledge of these effects is still rudimentary. In particular, food webs in which consumer satiation or other physiological and ecological phenomena tend to generate endogenous cyclic population fluctuations can show complex dynamics when they are coupled by diffusion of nutrients or dispersal of organisms. Incorporating the body of theory and mathematical tools developed in physiology to study coupled oscillators would be particularly useful to understand such dynamics. The Centre will foster collaborations between physiologists who have this expertise (Glass, Guevara) and ecologists at the leading edge of spatial community and ecosystem dynamics (Guichard, Loreau, de Mazancourt) to speed up progress in this rapidly growing field of ecology.