CCSE Lecture Series - Brian Fath "Sustainability and the Complex Systems Cycle"

Friday, April 4, 2014 ( 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm )

Location: Babbio 541 - CCSE Lab

CCSE Distinguished Lecture Series
Sustainability and the Complex Systems Cycle:  Ecosystem Growth, Development, and Collapse
Brian Fath, Professor, Biology Department, Towson University

ABSTRACTBefore a system can collapse, it first must have grown and developed gradients that moved it to a position away from a baseline from which it can collapse.  These gradients can be thermodynamic, organizational, structural, or functional, etc.  The collapse phase of complex dynamical systems is one stage of a continuous cycle that includes growth, conservation, collapse, and reorganization.  This talk focuses on two aspects of that cycle: 1) the thermodynamic orientors that track the development of system gradients (i.e., complexity) ; and, 2) the hierarchical distinction of collapse at incremental, adaptive, and transformative scales.  The response and recovery times and conditions differ depending on the severity of collapse.  Awareness of these orientors and response functions should help in managing complex dynamic systems.  While collapse poses challenges to the existing organization of the system, it also provides opportunities for new configurations and possibilities.  Ecological systems provide a particularly useful model given their long-term success at managing and expanding complexity within environmental constraints. 

BIOBrian D. Fath is Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Towson University (Maryland, USA) where he teaches courses in ecosystem ecology, environmental biology, networks, and human ecology and sustainability. Prof. Fath has taught courses on ecological networks and modeling in Portugal, Denmark, China, France, Germany, Italy, Croatia, and South Africa.

Prof. Fath is also research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria and is Editor-in-Chief for the journal Ecological Modelling.  He has published over 100 research papers, reports, and book chapters and co-authored the books A New Ecology: Systems Perspective and Ecological Modelling (4th edition). He currently serves as President of the North American Chapter of International Society for Ecological Modelling and Chair of Baltimore County Commission on Environmental Quality. He held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair position at Parthenope University of Naples, Italy in spring 2012.