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MIT's ocean model precisely mimics microbes' life cycles

dvances in computational capability and a simple recognition of his own bias.

"Physicists, like myself, have a bit of a reductionist view. We often shy away from the complexity of the real world in our models and prefer to reduce things to the simplest case with fewest factors," said Follows, who went through a sort of conceptual evolution after collaborating with Chisholm for several years. "I finally said, 'Yes, real world ecosystems are messy and complex. But let's embrace it.'"

The Paradigm Consortium of the National Ocean Partnership Program, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the MIT Global Habitat Longevity Award provided funding for the research.

Chisholm, Follows and Dutkiewicz plan to use this new type of model to look in more detail at what shapes the habitats of the phytoplankton and to link this to other, larger scientific issues about oceans, the plants and creatures living in them and global climate.

"This is just the beginning," said Chisholm. "Now we can begin to ask the model questions and test hypotheses about the role of oceanic microbes in global processes. This will help guide decisions about responsible use of the oceans in this era of global change."


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Source:Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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