NPI seminar: Ecosystem dynamics: how complex system theory helps us decipher drivers from followers

Speaker: Gary Griffith, Norwegian Polar Institute.

Complexity theory is a new theory invented by scientists panicked by the thought that the public were beginning to understand the old ones.

One of the fundamental challenges we face is to understand and predict the behavior of the rapid changes in Arctic ecosystems. This task is especially difficult when multiple drivers (e.g. species interactions and environmental drivers) interact in a non-linear and complex way to produce changes from predictable to the possibility of sudden shifts with unknown outcomes.

In the last few years, rapid developments in the field of complexity theory have emerged integrating concepts of network theory, chaos and mathematical advances in non-linearity. I am going to talk about my journey in this exciting field and how some of these ideas may help us think that while the changes are complex, are they complicated to understand and can we actually predict some of them.