Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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Pattern-oriented modelling: a ‘multi-scope’ for predictive systems ecology

Volker Grimm

Volker Grimm

Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research –UFZ, Permoserstrasse 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

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and
Steven F. Railsback

Steven F. Railsback

Department of Mathematics, Humboldt State University and Lang, Railsback and Associates, 250 California Avenue, Arcata CA 95521, USA

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    Modern ecology recognizes that modelling systems across scales and at multiple levels—especially to link population and ecosystem dynamics to individual adaptive behaviour—is essential for making the science predictive. ‘Pattern-oriented modelling’ (POM) is a strategy for doing just this. POM is the multi-criteria design, selection and calibration of models of complex systems. POM starts with identifying a set of patterns observed at multiple scales and levels that characterize a system with respect to the particular problem being modelled; a model from which the patterns emerge should contain the right mechanisms to address the problem. These patterns are then used to (i) determine what scales, entities, variables and processes the model needs, (ii) test and select submodels to represent key low-level processes such as adaptive behaviour, and (iii) find useful parameter values during calibration. Patterns are already often used in these ways, but a mini-review of applications of POM confirms that making the selection and use of patterns more explicit and rigorous can facilitate the development of models with the right level of complexity to understand ecological systems and predict their response to novel conditions.

    Footnotes

    One contribution of 16 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Predictive ecology: systems approaches’.

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