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Land 2015, 4(4), 914-937; doi:10.3390/land4040914

Simulation vs. Definition: Differing Approaches to Setting Probabilities for Agent Behaviour

Landcare Research New Zealand, Private Bag 92170, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Landcare Research New Zealand, P.O. Box 69040, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: James Millington and John Wainwright
Received: 30 April 2015 / Revised: 11 September 2015 / Accepted: 23 September 2015 / Published: 25 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change)
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While geographers and economists regularly work together on the development of land-use and land-cover change models, research on how differences in their modelling approaches affects the results is rare. Answering calls for more coordination between the two disciplines in order to build models that better represent the real world, we (two economists and a geographer) developed an economically grounded, spatially explicit, agent-based model to explore the effects of environmental policy on rural land use in New Zealand. This inter-disciplinary collaboration raised a number of differences in modelling approach. One key difference, and the focus of this paper, is the way in which processes that shape the behaviour of agents are integrated within the model. Using the model and a nationally representative survey, we compare the land-use effects of two disciplinary-aligned approaches to setting a farmer agent’s likelihood of land-use conversion. While we anticipated that the approaches would significantly affect model outcomes, at a catchment scale they produced similar trends and results. However, further analysis at a sub-catchment scale suggests the approach to setting the likelihood of land-use conversion does matter. While the results outlined here will not fully resolve the disciplinary differences, they do outline the need to account for heterogeneity in the predicted agent behaviours for both disciplines. View Full-Text
Keywords: agent-based; behaviour; agricultural; farmer; survey; econometrics; social networks; farm conversion agent-based; behaviour; agricultural; farmer; survey; econometrics; social networks; farm conversion

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Morgan, F.J.; Brown, P.; Daigneault, A.J. Simulation vs. Definition: Differing Approaches to Setting Probabilities for Agent Behaviour. Land 2015, 4, 914-937.

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