A spatially explicit agent-based simulation platform for investigating effects of shared pollination service on ecological communities Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The alarming reports from around the world on pollinator population declines made the understanding of the effects of shared pollination service on biodiversity into one of the most urgent goals in nature conservation, both for the scientists and managers. The classic field-based methodology which is commonly used in such studies, has three major problems which limit the researchers’ ability to further understand the nature of plant-pollinator dynamics: (1) Natural systems do not allow for a full factorial controlled studies of specific characteristics and traits of both plants and pollinators, because of many confounding effects which are usually unknown. Furthermore, (2) Many of the interactions between plants and pollinators are indirect, via their reciprocal effect on shared pollination services and therefore difficult to detect in the field. Finally, and (3) though plant composition and abundance may be manipulated in the field, it is almost impossible to manipulate pollinator populations, strongly restricting researchers’ ability to thoroughly understand the specific pollinator characteristics which created the observed effects. Therefore, simulation tools are needed that can address this complexity on one hand, and allow to identify potential research directions for targeted experiments on the other hand. Here, we present EcoSimInGrid, a spatially explicit agent-based simulator for investigating effects of shared pollination services on plant communities. EcoSimInGrid can be used to represent complex spatio-temporal interactions among ecological entities of different trophic levels, to investigate effects of plant traits, spatial distribution and pollinator behavior on shared pollination services and to analyze the relative effects of shared pollination and habitat productivity in shaping community diversity. Features like capability to model large ecosystems with tens of thousands of plants and pollinators, graphical user interface, flexible parameter configuration, comprehensive data output and fast speed parallel computing make EcoSimInGrid a welcome addition to the ecological modeling world.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013