Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics


School of Computing

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Eric Forgoston

Committee Member

Youngna Choi

Committee Member

Baojun Song


Ecologists have long been concerned with understanding the behavior and evolutionary patterns exhibited within complex ecological communities. Under- standing the delicate balance that sustains ecosystems is crucial in determining how these communities evolve over time. Recently, researchers have combined deterministic Lotka-Volterra dynamics with different types of synthetic food webs (cascade, niche and generalized cascade models), and have analyzed the mechanisms behind primary extinction events and the ensuing secondary extinction cascade. These studies also enabled the exploration of the complex interplay of species loss to explain how food web structure influences primary and secondary extinction. We have extended these ideas to real food webs by using the Ecopath modeling framework to study the dynamics of extinction in two actual marine ecosystems. The first example is a simple food web of eight functional groups from the Bay of Somme in France, while the second example is a more complicated food web of nineteen functional groups from the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Our methodology enables us to understand the extinction dynamics of different food webs, and to predict potential threats which can seriously affect the stability of real-world ecosystems.

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Available for download on Saturday, February 22, 2025