InterJournal Complex Systems, 371
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [371]
Submission Date: 501
Use of an object-based model to represent complex features of ecosystems
Author(s): Lael Parrott ,Robert Kok

Subject(s): CX.34, CX.19, CX.67

Category: Article


In this article, an ecosystem model that has been developed as an engineering tool is briefly described. Sample results from two simulations are then presented, and the model is examined with regards to its usefulness and applicability vis vis the representation of complex features of ecosystems. The model is in many ways unique: First, its scope (i.e., the number of different types of ecosystem components that are included) is much broader than that of most other ecosystem models, and key processes are represented at relatively high spatial and temporal resolutions (10 metres and 10 minutes, respectively). Second, it is entirely object-based: every abiotic and biotic component in the system is represented as a distinct entity. Thus, each organism, or small group of organisms, is treated as an individual object that lives in a spatially explicit environment composed of cells arranged in a 2-D lattice. Third, the model is completely configurable, so that a wide range of ecosystem configurations and their corresponding initial conditions can be specified for simulation. Thus, both the biological composition (i.e., number and type of species, initial population sizes, etc.) and the environment (i.e., terrain and atmosphere) of an ecosystem can be specified. When implemented in simulation, configurations based on simple food webs exhibit sustained material cycling, non-random spatial variation and distribution of organisms over the terrain, and persistent, multi-trophic level population dynamics. It is argued that these phenomena are emergent, and are indicative of spatial and temporal self-organisation in the modelled ecosystems.

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