A maximum entropy approach to disturbed ecosystems

Montagnani, Silvia (2022) A maximum entropy approach to disturbed ecosystems. [Laurea], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Fisica [L-DM270]
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The current climate crisis requires a comprehensive understanding of biodiversity to acknowledge how ecosystems’ responses to anthropogenic disturbances may result in feedback that can either mitigate or exacerbate global warming. Although ecosystems are dynamic and macroecological patterns change drastically in response to disturbance, dynamic macroecology has received insufficient attention and theoretical formalisation. In this context, the maximum entropy principle (MaxEnt) could provide an effective inference procedure to study ecosystems. Since the improper usage of entropy outside its scope often leads to misconceptions, the opening chapter will clarify its meaning by following its evolution from classical thermodynamics to information theory. The second chapter introduces the study of ecosystems from a physicist’s viewpoint. In particular, the MaxEnt Theory of Ecology (METE) will be the cornerstone of the discussion. METE predicts the shapes of macroecological metrics in relatively static ecosystems using constraints imposed by static state variables. However, in disturbed ecosystems with macroscale state variables that change rapidly over time, its predictions tend to fail. In the final chapter, DynaMETE is therefore presented as an extension of METE from static to dynamic. By predicting how macroecological patterns are likely to change in response to perturbations, DynaMETE can contribute to a better understanding of disturbed ecosystems’ fate and the improvement of conservation and management of carbon sinks, like forests. Targeted strategies in ecosystem management are now indispensable to enhance the interdependence of human well-being and the health of ecosystems, thus avoiding climate change tipping points.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea)
Autore della tesi
Montagnani, Silvia
Relatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
Entropy,Ecosystems,Climate Change,MaxEnt,Disturbed Ecosystems,Dynamic Macroecology,Ecology,Feedback,Carbon Cycle,Biodiversity,Thermodynamics,Forests,Ecosystem management,Ecological succession
Data di discussione della Tesi
27 Maggio 2022

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