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Research: Thomas Caraco
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Predicting how highly variable, but quantifiable, interactions at the level of individuals drive dynamics at the scale of populations/communities presents a fundamental challenge to population biology. We apply a statistical-physics framework to model initial growth and subsequent spatial propagation of ecologically invasive species. Recent results address (1) the critical radius for expected growth of invader clusters in a competitive environment, scaling laws linking (2) stochastic roughening of an invasive front to the most advanced location of the invading species, and (3) how an understanding of spatially detailed, invasive growth can be applied to limit the economic cost of ecological restoration.

We also contribute models of "host jumping," where a parasite expands its niche by invading a novel-host population. See a model for an environmentally transmitted parasite that jumps between two group-living host species, Caraco, Cizauskas and Wang (pdf). I collaborate with Dr. Gyorgy Korniss, Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Dr. Ing-Nang Wang, Department of Biological Sciences, UAlbany.