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Last Update:
February 11, 2008


Chapter 11 - Modelling.

New books and papers | Websites

Chapter Outline :

    • A model is an attempt to describe a system;
    • Models can rarely describe the precise functioning of even a simple ecosystem because of the interactions which occur with other nearby systems;
    • Island biogeography is an example of a relatively successful attempt to explain the particular situation which isolated ecosystems face;
    • Most current work on models is concerned with climate and ecosystem interactions.
New books and papers
Author(s) Title (and link) Comment
Mora, Metzger, Rollo and Myers 2007 Experimental simulations about the effects of overexploitation and habitat fragmentation on populations facing environmental warming It's difficult to find precise causal realtions in field situations. This experiment aimed to discover the degree various factors altered population levels. Main result is that interaction of several factors increases total impact significantly.
Jagers, Klebaner and Sagitov 2007 On the path to extinction Models the way in which certain extinction patterns can emerge.
Heaney 2007 Is a new paradigm emerging for oceanic island biogeography? Dispersal is stuck between equilibrium and vicariance theories unless we adopt new ideas. This paper outlines one new model combining a range of previous hypotheses.
Azaele, Pigolotti, Banavar and Maritan 2006 Dynamical evolution of ecosystems The development of a new model that can help explain evolution of ecosystems.
Shipley, Vile and Garnier 2006 From Plant Traits to Plant Communities: A Statistical Mechanistic Approach
to Biodiversity
If community development is seen as a statistical exercise rather than a complexity of traits making metapopulations then much of the variation can be explained e.g. there is less ecology in explaining distribution.
Trumbore 2006 Carbon respired by terrestrial ecosystems – recent progress and challenges This review paper examines advances in estimating rates of respiration to better calculate net ecosystem production.
Solow, Roberts and Robbirt 2006 On the Pleistocene extinctions of Alaskan mammoths and horses Argues for careful usage of the fossil record especially where there are arguments for/against an anthropocentric influence in extinction.
Schils 2006 The tripartite biogeographical index: a new tool for quantifying spatio-temporal differences in distribution patterns Describes a new method of quantifying distributions so that they can be better analysed statistically.
Pybus 2006 Model Selection and the Molecular Clock. Discusses the problems caused by various models in analysing rates of genetic change.
Preisler, Ager and Wisdom 2006 Statistical methods for analysing responses of wildlife to human disturbance Using telemetry and GPS, it's possible to get accurate responses of mammals to off-road recreational vehicles which is an incresing stress in some areas.
Muller-Landau et al 2006 Testing metabolic ecology theory for allometric scaling of tree size, growth and mortality in tropical
Despite tests there does not appear to be one universal model linking tree growth with mortality - an important finding in assessing tropical biomass.
Montoya et al 2006 Ecological networks and their fragility Puts forwards suggestions for models to better explain ecological networks.
Gavin and Hu 2006 Spatial variation of climatic and
non-climatic controls on species
distribution: the range limit of Tsuga heterophylla
Bioclimatic modelling can help explain species distributions.
Calmar and Currie 2006 A global model of island biogeography Considers a new model to explain bird diversity using a combination of area-isolation and species-energy theories.
Sankaran et al 2005 Determinants of woody cover in African savannas Tree-grass balance in these areas is controlled by a range of factors depending upon rainfall which has implications for future management especially under climate change.
Volkov et al 2005 Density dependence explains tree species abundance and diversity in tropical forests Rare specices cause problems for models because of the need to fit data into theoretical distributions. This paper describes and attempt to find a model to explain the data.
Bennett, Cumming and Peterson 2005 A Systems Model Approach to
Determining Resilience Surrogates
for Case Studies
Models need to be refined if they are to be accurate. Determining ways we can model reslinence is important in conservation - this paer shows how it might be done.
Thuiller, Lavorel and Araujo 2005 Niche properties and geographical extent as predictors of species sensitivity to climate change Uses a model of bioclimatic changes to look at plant sensitivity to climate. It suggests that niche properties are key determinants in response to climate change.
Metzger et al 2005 A climatic stratification of the environment of Europe An example of a map suitable for random sampling and modelling exercises.
Champeaux, Masson and Chauvin 2005 ECOCLIMAP: a global database of land surface parameters at 1 km resolution Describes a new method of assessing soil-atmosphere transfer using satellite images.
West and Brown 2004 Life's Universal Scaling Laws. Physics Today. Sept 2004 36-42 Argues that scaling laws seen in physics could be used equally in biology.
 Verhayen et al 2004  Metapopulation dynamics in changing landscapes: a spatially realistic model for forest plants.  Describes a more effective way of modelling patch dynamics.

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