DOI: 1207.0020Jun 29, 2012Paper

Spontaneously Broken Neutral Symmetry in an Ecological System

ArXiv
Claudio BorileAmos Maritan

Abstract

Spontaneous symmetry breaking plays a fundamental role in many areas of condensed matter and particle physics. A fundamental problem in ecology is the elucidation of the mechanisms responsible for biodiversity and stability. Neutral theory, which makes the simplifying assumption that all individuals (such as trees in a tropical forest) --regardless of the species they belong to-- have the same prospect of reproduction, death, etc., yields gross patterns that are in accord with empirical data. We explore the possibility of birth and death rates that depend on the population density of species while treating the dynamics in a species-symmetric manner. We demonstrate that the dynamical evolution can lead to a stationary state characterized simultaneously by both biodiversity and spontaneously broken neutral symmetry.

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