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Resource Consumption, Sustainability, and Cancer

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Preserving a system’s viability in the presence of diversity erosion is critical if the goal is to sustainably support biodiversity. Reduction in population heterogeneity, whether inter- or intraspecies, may increase

Preserving a system’s viability in the presence of diversity erosion is critical if the goal is to sustainably support biodiversity. Reduction in population heterogeneity, whether inter- or intraspecies, may increase population fragility, either decreasing its ability to adapt effectively to environmental changes or facilitating the survival and success of ordinarily rare phenotypes. The latter may result in over-representation of individuals who may participate in resource utilization patterns that can lead to over-exploitation, exhaustion, and, ultimately, collapse of both the resource and the population that depends on it. Here, we aim to identify regimes that can signal whether a consumer–resource system is capable of supporting viable degrees of heterogeneity. The framework used here is an expansion of a previously introduced consumer–resource type system of a population of individuals classified by their resource consumption. Application of the Reduction Theorem to the system enables us to evaluate the health of the system through tracking both the mean value of the parameter of resource (over)consumption, and the population variance, as both change over time. The article concludes with a discussion that highlights applicability of the proposed system to investigation of systems that are affected by particularly devastating overly adapted populations, namely cancerous cells. Potential intervention approaches for system management are discussed in the context of cancer therapies.

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Date Created
  • 2015-02-01

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Niche construction, sustainability and evolutionary ecology of cancer

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In complex consumer-resource type systems, where diverse individuals are interconnected and interdependent, one can often anticipate what has become known as the tragedy of the commons, i.e., a situation, when

In complex consumer-resource type systems, where diverse individuals are interconnected and interdependent, one can often anticipate what has become known as the tragedy of the commons, i.e., a situation, when overly efficient consumers exhaust the common resource, causing collapse of the entire population. In this dissertation I use mathematical modeling to explore different variations on the consumer-resource type systems, identifying some possible transitional regimes that can precede the tragedy of the commons. I then reformulate it as a game of a multi-player prisoner's dilemma and study two possible approaches for preventing it, namely direct modification of players' payoffs through punishment/reward and modification of the environment in which the interactions occur. I also investigate the questions of whether the strategy of resource allocation for reproduction or competition would yield higher fitness in an evolving consumer-resource type system and demonstrate that the direction in which the system will evolve will depend not only on the state of the environment but largely on the initial composition of the population. I then apply the developed framework to modeling cancer as an evolving ecological system and draw conclusions about some alternative approaches to cancer treatment.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012