Richard McGehee University of Minnesota
School of Mathematics


The Mathematics of Climate



Modeling species-environment interactions with limited information

Adam Clark
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

11:15 Tuesday, October 25, 2016
570 Vincent Hall

Though there is an abundant literature of mechanism-driven models describing various ecological and environmental processes, a perennial problem of applying these models to real-world systems is the scarcity of data. I will discuss a simplified resource competition model that we have used to predict species abundance in diverse prairie plant communities at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in Bethel, MN. A major advantage of this model is that it can be parameterized using simple measurements taken in experimentally planted monocultures, yet makes accurate predictions about outcomes in diverse mixtures. To make these predictions, we take advantage of information from empirically observed tradeoffs among species functional traits, which helps constrain parameter estimates and improves model fit. I will also discuss ongoing efforts to extend the range of conditions across which this model is able to make accurate predictions, which could be useful for projecting impacts of environmental changes across unprecedented spatial and temporal scales.


Time and Location

The meetings are held in 570 Vincent Hall at 11:15 on Tuesdays, followed by an extended discussion over lunch at the Bona Restaurant.

WebEx Session

We will broadcast the seminar to remote participants via WebEx. If you would like to receive a weekly invitation to the sessions, please send an email to Alice Nadeau <>.



Richard McGehee, School of Mathematics,
Clarence Lehman, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior,



This seminar examines some of the simpler mathematical models of climate in the recent literature. Participants are encouraged to read a paper and report on it to the other participants, but passive participation is also welcomed. Course credit can be arranged either through the School of Mathematics or the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior by arrangement with the organizers.



This seminar is associated with the NSF sponsored Mathematics and Climate Research Network.


Last update: October 21, 2016 ©2016 Richard McGehee