PT - JOURNAL ARTICLE
AU - James P. O’Dwyer
TI - Whence Lotka-Volterra? Conservation Laws and Integrable Systems in Ecology
AID - 10.1101/298166
DP - 2018 Jan 01
TA - bioRxiv
PG - 298166
4099 - http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/04/09/298166.short
4100 - http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/04/09/298166.full
AB - Competition in ecology is often modeled in terms of direct, negative effects of one individual on another. An example is logistic growth, modeling the effects of intraspecific competition, while the Lotka-Volterra equations for competition extend this to systems of multiple species, with varying strengths of intra- and inter-specific competition. These equations are a classic and well-used staple of quantitative ecology, providing a framework to understand species interactions, species coexistence, and community assembly. They can be derived from an assumption of random mixing of organisms, and an outcome of each interaction that removes one or more individuals. However, this framing is some-what unsatisfactory, and ecologists may prefer to think of phenomenological equations for competition as deriving from competition for a set of resources required for growth, which in turn may undergo their own complex dynamics. While it is intuitive that these frameworks are connected, and the connection is well-understood near to equilibria, here we ask the question: when can consumer dynamics alone become an exact description of a full system of consumers and resources? We identify that consumer-resource systems with this property must have some kind of redundancy in the original description, or equivalently there is one or more conservation laws for quantities that do not change with time. Such systems are known in mathematics as integrable systems. We suggest that integrability in consumer-resource dynamics can only arise in cases where each species in an assemblage requires a distinct and unique combination of resources, and even in these cases it is not clear that the resulting dynamics will lead to Lotka-Volterra competition.I acknowledge the Simons Foundation Grant #376199 and the McDonnell Foundation Grant #220020439.