September 30 2015

12:00 LSB 2320

Van Savage
Dept of EEB, UCLA

Integrating Mathematical Models and Meta-Analysis To Better Understand Structure, Interactions, and Variation in Biological Systems


I strive to answer fundamental questions in physiology and ecology by linking big-data approaches with mechanistic models. In particular, I will discuss how physiological rates respond to temperature and how these responses might be shaped via intrinsic physiology, extrinsic environment, and evolution. Building on this, I will explain my research on consumer-resource (CR) interactions and progress in predicting how component functional traits, population dynamics, and coexistence of CR interactions depend on body size and on mismatches in thermal responses between the consumer and resource. To test these predictions, I will present a database (Biotraits) that my group compiled, organized, and analyzed and that represents an unprecedented diversity of CR foraging strategies, species, and habitats. In addition, I will briefly show results from video-tracking experiments of CR interactions in my group. On the more physiological side, I will describe new software developed in my group for automatically measuring vessel dimensions and geometry from three-dimensional angiographic (e.g., CT and MRI) images. This software leads to much faster collection of larger amounts of data than was previously possible. Based on these vascular data, we test and develop new models for the structure and dynamics of vascular networks, allometric scaling, and tumor growth. In summary, I will argue how advances in creating and analyzing large databases enable the empirical testing, grounding, and improving of mathematical models, thus leading to new insights into biological systems.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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