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Patterns underpin ecological theories and paradigms. While over a dozen ecological patterns are considered to be classic or even law-like, most are divided among non-overlapping theories and subfields. As a result, ecology lacks a holistic understanding for how primary patterns can emerge in unison. We developed a simulation-based platform for this purpose. The Emergence platform encodes energetic costs, ecological selection, stochasticity, and multiplicative interactions. These phenomena capture the basis of life history trade-offs, resource-limited growth, the importance of stochasticity and determinism, and the nonlinear nature of ecological dynamics. Emergence builds individual-based models from random starting conditions and allows ecological selection to operate on random variation in species traits. Emergence generates established patterns of commonness and rarity, scaling patterns from metabolic theory and biodiversity theory, growth and abundance patterns of population ecology. Our platform reveals that iconic ecological patterns that span paradigms, theories, and sub-disciplines can simultaneously emerge from random starting conditions when basic principles are observed.
The prose and analyses of this manuscript were greatly overhauled, but still represent the core concept and flow of the original manuscript.