The most striking feature of ecological systems is their vast diversity and complex structure and function. These characteristics of living nature have impaired our understanding of, and our ability to predict, ecological phenomena in a changing world. Nevertheless, ecologists have made important progress in their efforts to identify a set of basic principles that govern ecological systems. These general principles, taken from physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology (e.g., physiology and natural selection), have provided the foundations for ecological theory. Most ecological theories are grounded in common biological currencies of energy, matter, and information. Despite major conceptual and empirical advances, the way these currencies combine to shape and constrain ecological processes from the individual to the biosphere, and across space and time, is still far from clear. Further, as our theories hold for particular domains of ecological phenomena, a quest for cross-domain integration remains crucial. Therefore, the slow progress in ecological understanding is in big part due to the multiple divides described above. Ultimately, our discipline will build a deeper understanding of ecological phenomena from an integration among ecological theories and currencies, the deconstruction of sub-disciplinary boundaries, and the search for commonalities as well as contrasts among ecological systems.
This GRC is a quest for ecological reasoning from a set of core principles; to reduce ecology's complexity to a few fundamental rules, and to integrate and synthesize theoretical and empirical approaches across sub-disciplines and environments. Our 2020 conference builds on past GRCs that addressed these grand challenges through the cross-breeding of ideas that embrace diverse ecological phenomena across multiple scales. We aim to create a dynamic conference environment to attract a multidisciplinary group of early career and senior ecologists applying fundamental principles of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics to understand ecological phenomena. This meeting is for any scientist interested in an integrated and synthetic, multi-scale ecological science. So, we especially invite contributions that merge at least two of the three currencies (matter, energy, information) in theories or empirical research.
The ultimate goal of this meeting is to foster a lively discussion forum, and to stimulate big ideas that might transform ecology in the coming decades. Relevant topics to be covered include: biological scaling, ecological stoichiometry, ecophysiology, disease dynamics, network ecology, biogeography, eco-evolutionary dynamics, and paleoecology. We look forward to seeing you in this GRC for a week of exciting and fun interactions, and progress in ecological understanding! To attend: just apply; to speak: contact the chair.