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What maintains diversity in ecosystems?  How is diversity structured?  What facilitates coexistence?

Indeed, these are the questions that plague me in the wee hours of night.  I think to myself, "if only I could pare down those ecosystems to their fundamental properties, and tinker with them."  But alas, the biosphere is far too complex.

Instead, I build simplified ecosystems like the one shown below.  If you have Java 5 or higher enabled in your browser settings, you can play with this system of "simpupods".  These simpupods bounce around randomly within this artificial ecosystem.  Different species are denoted by different colors.  Each species has an assigned egg size, and an adult size.  When two individuals encounter each other, after an implied struggle for survival, the larger one dispassionately consumes the smaller one, and grows accordingly.  Once an individual reaches its adult size, it divides its mass into new individuals.  "Adult size" and "egg size" are traits that are passed on to offspring.

You'll notice from the histograms below that some species (i.e. egg size / adult size combo) go extinct quickly, while others persist.  You can add species by clicking the "add species" button.  You can also adjust the speed of the simulation, making it easier to watch.

Nick Record, signing off.


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This page contains a single entry by Nick Record published on May 11, 2011 7:31 PM.

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