Press Release

A new mathematical model of ecology created by University of Chicago scientists provides the most accurate reproduction to date of natural biodiversity, according to a new paper in the journal Nature. For almost a century, ecologists have conceptualized an ecosystem as the sum of pairwise interactions, such as predator and prey, herbivore and plant, or parasite and host. However, equations based on that theory failed to replicate the diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems. Building upon previous work that modeled competition between species as similar to a game of rock/paper/scissors, a team led by Stefano Allesina, Professor of Ecology & Evolution at the University of Chicago, found that adding additional competitors could generate stable and robust model ecosystems.