technical report Modelling and analysing hierarchical ecological systems in BlenX


It is a key problem in current biology how to better understand the hierarchical organization of biological systems. One way how to model this is studying interactive networks representing interactions among entities at different organizational levels. Here we build a three-level network model, linking (1) a social network of individuals characterizing a species, (2) a food web of species describing a local community and (3) a spatial network of communities abstracting an ecosystem. We use the BlenX language for the structural description and the dynamical simulation of the network. This language was originally defined for the study of biochemical networks and here we investigate its expressive and analysis power in the context of ecological systems. In particular, the BlenX language, as process algebras in general, offers an alternative approach with respect to standard methods based on differential equations and graph analysis. The key question analysed is whether bottom-up (from individuals) or top-down (from the ecosystem) changes will influence more community dynamics (at the intermediate level). In order to answer these questions, we consider a stochastic framework. Stochastic simulation is appropriate in this study, since our model describes a fragmented population characterized by a certain variability.

Paper Details


F. Ciocchetta,  F. Jordan