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01/23/2017

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Alec Brazeau

I really enjoy the example of Jurassic Park as a complex system! It would be fun to draw the diagram of the Jurassic Park system. The movie/book is a great example of the lack of human control when it comes to complex systems. As Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm) says, "Life, uh, finds a way". That quote is in reference to the fact that complex systems such as nature and genetics cannot be fully controlled by humans due to their inherent chaos and randomness. What are some other systems that are too complex and chaotic to be fully controlled by us?

Sam Krasnobrod

You had me at Jurassic Park. I think the same sentiment can be used even when looking at a far more mild park: Yellowstone. As the Western Expansion continued through the 19th century, more and more animals were displaced, including wolves and bison. Wolves especially are critical to the survival of the ecosystem that was in place in Yellowstone as they maintained the balance of various species they preyed upon. Once the wolves were removed from the system, the elk population boomed. Fewer wolves meant that elk had no fear when it came to herbaceous activity: the elk would no longer hide in the forests, and would instead eat grass near the rivers edge – an activity that resulted in increased erosion, and a reduction in overall river health. Without getting into too much detail... it is fair to say (anecdotally) that all the species in YNP suffered as a result of wolves being removed from the system.

This is an example of a negative feedback loop. Fewer or no wolves allow for an increase in prey animals, an increase in herbivory, an increase in erosion... and so on.

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