D. G. Green, S. Sadedin, T. G. Leishman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Self-organization is the emergence of pattern and order in a system by internal processes, rather than external constraints or forces. Global features often emerge by self-organization involving local interactions between individuals. Ecological examples range from the structure of animal social groups to spatial patterns associated with plant distributions. They include flocking behavior, formation of ant colonies, and stability of food webs. In thermodynamic terms, ecosystems are dissipative systems, which are open systems far from equilibrium, and in which local variations can grow into global patterns. Many aspects of self-organization can be understood in terms of network properties such as connectivity. Processes contributing to self-organization include feedback, encapsulation, autocatalysis, synchronization, criticality, connectivity, and adaptation. The study of self-organization has become closely linked with new fields of study, such as complexity theory and artificial life. Simulation, especially multiagent models, has become the most common tool for investigating mechanisms and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Ecology
EditorsBrian Fath
Place of PublicationAmsterdam Netherlands
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780444641304
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Artificial life
  • Complexity
  • Criticality
  • Emergence
  • Encapsulation
  • Feedback
  • Food web
  • Information
  • Network
  • Self-organization
  • Stability
  • Synchronization
  • Thermodynamics

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