Satellite: Complex Biological Systems that Link Disease, Parasites, and Nutrient Ecology

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
8:30 am – 12:00 pm
Location TBD

Satellite Organizers

Yun Kang, Arizona State University, USA
Ted Pavlic, Arizona State University, USA

Abstract

Social insects, including ants, and termites as well as many bees and wasps, are among the most diverse and ecologically significant organisms on earth. These species live in complex societies whose governance comes not from a central authority but from the interactions of their individuals with each other and with the environment. Recent research has begun to reveal the pervasive impacts of disease, parasites, nutrients on the evolution of insect social organization, influencing colony and population genetics, demography, and mating systems, among other attributes. The interdisciplinary study of the links among disease, parasites, nutrient present both challenges and opportunities for research and education. In this session, we will bring together a group of social-insect researchers with expertise ranging from animal behavior to mathematical and computational modeling. During this session, we will present different modeling frameworks for studying complex systems of social insects as well as methods for experimentally validating those models with natural data. Theoretical frameworks will include agent-based modeling, network analysis, differential equations, and optimization. We will also discuss how mathematical and computational models can be used in educational settings to teach fundamental concepts from complexity theory to biology students whose background and interests are more likely to be aligned with experimentation as opposed to theory.