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Plos Computational Biology : Landscape as a Model ; the Importance of Geometry, Volume 3

By Rushton, Stephen, Paul

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Book Id: WPLBN0003924348
Format Type: PDF eBook :
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Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Plos Computational Biology : Landscape as a Model ; the Importance of Geometry, Volume 3  
Author: Rushton, Stephen, Paul
Volume: Volume 3
Language: English
Subject: Journals, Science, Computational Biology
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection (Contemporary), PLoS Computational Biology
Publication Date:
Publisher: Plos


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Rushton, S. P. (n.d.). Plos Computational Biology : Landscape as a Model ; the Importance of Geometry, Volume 3. Retrieved from

Description : In all models, but especially in those used to predict uncertain processes (e.g., climate change and nonnative species establishment), it is important to identify and remove any sources of bias that may confound results. This is critical in models designed to help support decisionmaking. The geometry used to represent virtual landscapes in spatially explicit models is a potential source of bias. The majority of spatial models use regular square geometry, although regular hexagonal landscapes have also been used. However, there are other ways in which space can be represented in spatially explicit models. For the first time, we explicitly compare the range of alternative geometries available to the modeller, and present a mechanism by which uncertainty in the representation of landscapes can be incorporated. We test how geometry can affect cell-to-cell movement across homogeneous virtual landscapes and compare regular geometries with a suite of irregular mosaics. We show that regular geometries have the potential to systematically bias the direction and distance of movement, whereas even individual instances of landscapes with irregular geometry do not. We also examine how geometry can affect the gross representation of real-world landscapes, and again show that individual instances of regular geometries will always create qualitative and quantitative errors. These can be reduced by the use of multiple randomized instances, though this still creates scale-dependent biases. In contrast, virtual landscapes formed using irregular geometries can represent complex real-world landscapes without error. We found that the potential for bias caused by regular geometries can be effectively eliminated by subdividing virtual landscapes using irregular geometry. The use of irregular geometry appears to offer spatial modellers other potential advantages, which are as yet underdeveloped. We recommend their use in all spatially explicit models, but especially for predictive models that are used in decisionmaking.


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