This is a modeling session occurring at the AAAS Annual Meeting. Registration is via the AAAS meeting web site.
Microbial communities determine the biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s soil, oceans and the atmosphere, and perform ecosystem functions that impact plants, animals, and humans. Yet our ability to predict and manage the function of these highly complex, dynamically changing communities is limited. The complexity and dynamics of community behavior presents challenges that are difficult to address with experimental observation alone. With microbiology emerging as a quantitative science, strong opportunities exist for integrating theoretical insights and experimental approaches. Indeed, study of fundamental principles and mechanisms with mathematical models has a novel discovery potential for complex biological and ecological systems that has been underutilized up to this point.
This session will provide an overview of coupled experimental studies and mathematical models of interactions within natural ecosystems, emphasizing that a critical aspect in the development of mathematical models is the need to address appropriate and multiple scales to understand the emergent behavior of the microbial community encoded in the data. While these scales can be addressed using multiple approaches, in order to employ theoretical models fully and successfully it is vital to implement an interdisciplinary view during both the conceptual design of the experiments and in the post-experiment interpretation of the data and phenomena.