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Advanced school: Complexity, adaptation and emergence in marine ecosystems

Advanced course
EUR-OCEANS organisation / funding

This is one of four advanced courses/schools that will be supported by EUR-OCEANS in 2010.

Scope and purpose

Marine ecosystems are currently under considerable stress from a number of factors including climate change, invasive species, and exploitation. These factors are potentially able to alter the structure, functioning and stability of ecosystems. The response of ecosystems to increasing pressures is difficult to predict because of the high non-linearity and adaptive capabilities of ecosystems.

The advanced school focuses on concepts and techniques from the studies of complexity, dynamic systems, and stochastic calculus together with game theory,behavioural and evolutionary ecology in order to take into account adaptation and evolutionary constraints at the level of individual organisms. The aim of this approach is to understand the emergent properties of marine ecosystems (their productivity, biodiversity, stability, resilience, susceptibility to regime shifts) in the face of changing physical and biotic environmental factors which affect individual behavior. Plankton is taken as key species since it is at the base of all marine food webs and it is among the most studied marine organisms by both experimentalists and modelers. Plankton communities also offer a straightforward conceptual framework for understanding trophic interactions in complex food webs.


Course organizers

  • Andy Visser (DTU-Aqua),
  • Cosimo Solidoro (OGS),
  • Uffe Thygesen (DTU-Aqua),
  • Patrizio Mariani (DTU-Aqua)

Local organizer

  • Matteo Marsili (ICTP)


  • Øyvind Fiksen
  • Thomas Kiørboe
  • Andy Visser
  • Volker Grimm
  • Matteo Marsili
  • Daniel Grundbaum
  • Simon Levin
  • Vlastimil Krivan
  • Alan McKane
  • Ken Andersen
  • Jorn Bruggeman
  • Patrizio Mariani

Topics, sessions...

The course will be organized along the following main scientific subjects:

  • 1. Individual based ecology of plankton
  •     1.1.mechanistic interactions
  • and rational behaviour
  • theory
  • 2. Scaling up to ecosystems
  •     2.1.dynamic systems with rational behaviour
  •     2.2.stochastic processes
  •     2.3.trait based models
  •     2.4.complexity

Scientific subjects will be organized in 1) tutorial and introductory lectures, 2) working-groups session, with laboratory activities on numerical models and 3) open discussion session, to identify specific applications on related topics. A final session will report on the progress of working groups on specific projects.

Lectures and materials

All talks and activities have been made available on the advanced course webpage:


Please use the application form available on the course webpage.


ICTP contact:

EUR-OCEANS contact: Patrizio Mariani (DTU-Aqua), Cosimo Solidoro (OGS); Project Office:

Activity leader(s): 
Andy Visser (DTU-Aqua), Cosimo Solidoro (OGS), Uffe Thygesen (DTU-Aqua), Patrizio Mariani (DTU-Aqua)
International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy
Start date: 
End date: 
Registration deadline: 

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