The competitive exclusion principle states that a number of species competing for a smaller number of resources cannot coexist. Even though this is a fundamental principle in ecology, it has been observed empirically that in some settings it will fail. One example is Hutchinson's `paradox of the plankton'. This is an instance where a large number of phytoplankton species coexist while competing for a very limited number of resources. Both experimental and theoretical studies have shown that in some instances (deterministic) temporal fluctuations of the environment can facilitate coexistence for competing species. Hutchinson conjectured that one can get coexistence because nonequilibrium conditions would make it possible for different species to be favored by the environment at different times. In this talk I will look at how environmental noise interacts with competitive exclusion. I will show that, contrary to Hutchinson's explanation, one can switch between two environments in which the same species is favored and still get coexistence.

About Maths Colloquium

The Mathematics Colloquium is directed at students and academics working in the fields of pure and applied mathematics, and statistics. 

We aim to present expository lectures that appeal to our wide audience.

Information for speakers

Information for speakers

Maths colloquia are usually held on Mondays, from 2pm to 3pm, in various locations at St Lucia.

Presentations are 50 minutes, plus five minutes for questions and discussion.

Available facilities include:

  • computer 
  • data projector
  • chalkboard or whiteboard

To avoid technical difficulties on the day, please contact us in advance of your presentation to discuss your requirements.


Parnell #7