Ecological Modeling: A Common-Sense Approach to Theory and Practice

William E. Grant, Todd M. Swannack 
Wiley - Blackwell  November 2007  

Paperback  176 pp  ISBN 9781405161688      £27.00
This book is a down-to-earth guide for students, teachers, and professional ecologists.

The text addresses the question "What do I really need to know to begin building and using ecological models in a responsible manner?" In addition to providing a common-sense introduction to the basic principles of systems modeling, the authors suggest a practical strategy for dealing with pitfalls commonly encountered during model development. The ties between theory and practice, which beginning modelers often find so elusive, are demystified via the step-by-step development of three models representing ecological systems of increasing complexity.

The coauthors infuse the text with complimentary perspectives from the first (Grant) and most recent (Swannack) generations of ecological modelers.



1 Introduction.
1.1 Common Sense Solutions: Three Exercises. 1.2 Modeling Theory. 1.3 Modeling Practice. 1.4 Theory, Practice, and Common Sense. 1.5 Intended Use of this Book.

2 Common Sense Solutions.
2.1 Three Problems. 2.2 The Systems Approach to Problem Solving. 2.3 The Three Problems Revisited: The Systems Approach.

3 Theory I: The Conceptual Model.
3.1 State the Model Objectives (Ia). 3.2 Bound the System-of-Interest (Ib). 3.3 Categorize the Components within the System-of-Interest (Ic). 3.4 Identify the Relationships among the Components That Are of Interest (Id). 3.5 Represent the Conceptual Model (Ie). 3.6 Describe the Expected Patterns of Model Behavior (If).

4 Theory II: The Quantitative Model.
4.1 Select the General Quantitative Structure for the Model (IIa). 4.2 Choose the Basic Time Unit for the Simulations (IIb). 4.3 Identify the Functional Forms of the Model Equations (IIc). 4.4 Estimate the Parameters of the Model Equations (IId). 4.5 Execute the Baseline Simulation (IIe).

5 Theory III: Model Evaluation.
5.1 Assess the Reasonableness of the Model Structure and the Interpretability of Functional Relationships within the Model (IIIa). 5.2 Evaluate the Correspondence between Model Behavior and the Expected Patterns of Model Behavior (IIIb). 5.3 Examine the Correspondence between Model Projections and the Data from the Real System (IIIc). 5.4 Determine the Sensitivity of Model Projections to Changes in the Values of Important Parameters (IIId).

6 Theory IV: Model Application.
6.1 Develop and Execute the Experimental Design for the Simulations (IVa). 6.2 Analyze and Interpret the Simulation Results (IVb). 6.3 Communicate the Simulation Results (IVc).

7 Some Common Pitfalls.
7.1 Phase I: Pitfalls: The Conceptual Model. 7.2 Phase II Pitfalls: The Quantitative Model. 7.3 Phase III Pitfalls: Model Evaluation. 7.4 Phase IV Pitfalls: Model Application.

8 The Modeling Process In Practice.
8.1 The Preliminary Conceptual Model (CM). 8.2 The Intermediate Developmental Models (IDMi). 8.3 The Final Model (FM). 8.4 The Three Problems Revisited.

9 Reflections.
9.1 The Systems Approach as a Complement to other Methods of Problem Solving. 9.2 Ecological Modeling as a Problem-Solving Process. 9.3 Expectations for Ecological Models. 9.4 A Final Thought.

Appendix A: Introduction To The Ecological Modeling Literature.
Appendix B: Scientific Reports For The Three Examples.
B.1: Effect of Deforestation on Rate of Food Harvest.
B.2: Effect of Hurricane Frequency on Probability of Population Extinction.
B.3: Effect of Stocking Rate on Forage and Animal Production.

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