Special Issue "Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2015).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. James D.A Millington
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, King's College London, K7.48 Strand Campus, London WC2R 2LS, UK
Interests: Agent-based modelling; landscape ecology; land use/cover change modelling; coupled human and natural systems
Prof. John Wainwright
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
Interests: environmental models; human-environment interactions; geomorphology; geoarchaeology; hydrology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The use of agent-based models (ABMs) and modelling for understanding landscape change and dynamics continues to grow. One reason for the popularity of ABMs is that they provide a framework to represent multiple, discrete, multi-faceted, heterogeneous actors (human or otherwise) and their relationships and interactions between one another and their environment, through time and across space. This special issue seeks to showcase innovative uses of ABMs for investigating and explaining landscape change and dynamics and to explore and identify how researchers in different disciplines can learn from one another to further innovate. Thus, this special issue will emphasise multidisciplinary dialogue between researchers using ABM in physical geography, hydrology, ecology, land change science, economics, alternative histories, archaeology, sociology, psychology and others. Innovation may come in the form of computational, conceptual, analytical, participatory or epistemological advances in the use of ABM for a range of aims and motivations associated with landscape change and dynamics. Modelling advances may include new ways of representing agent decisions and/or interactions, establishing and evaluating model structures and rules, presenting and visualising change, multi-scale analysis, comparative techniques, narrative methods, and more. The presentation of innovative agent-based modelling from diverse research backgrounds and perspectives will demonstrate opportunities for learning and enable dialogue to enhance future use of ABMs for understanding landscape change.

Dr. James Millington
Prof. John Wainwright
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • landscape change
  • agent-based models
  • simulation
  • modelling
  • spatial
  • interdisciplinary
  • innovation

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Comparative Approaches for Innovation in Agent-Based Modelling of Landscape Change
Land 2016, 5(2), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5020013 - 20 May 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
In this Special Issue on “Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change” we aimed to bring together articles that showcase innovative uses of agent-based models (ABMs) for investigating and explaining landscape change and dynamics.[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Simulating Littoral Trade: Modeling the Trade of Wine in the Bronze to Iron Age Transition in Southern France
Land 2016, 5(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5010005 - 05 Feb 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
The Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France is well known today for producing full-bodied red wines. Yet wine grapes are not native to France. Additionally, wine was not developed indigenously first. In the 7th century B.C. Etruscan merchants bringing wine landed on the shores [...] Read more.
The Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France is well known today for producing full-bodied red wines. Yet wine grapes are not native to France. Additionally, wine was not developed indigenously first. In the 7th century B.C. Etruscan merchants bringing wine landed on the shores of the Languedoc and established trade relationships with the native Gauls, later creating local viticulture, and laying the foundation for a strong cultural identity of French wine production and setting in motion a multi-billion dollar industry. This paper examines the first five centuries of wine consumption (from ~600 B.C. to ~100 B.C.), analyzing how preference of one type of luxury good over another created distinctive artifact patterns in the archaeological record. I create a simple agent-based model to examine how the trade of comestibles for wine led to a growing economy and a distinctive patterning of artifacts in the archaeological record of southern France. This model helps shed light on the processes that led to centuries of peaceable relationships with colonial merchants, and interacts with scholarly debate on why Etruscan amphorae are replaced by Greek amphorae so swiftly and completely. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Investigating Impacts of Alternative Crop Market Scenarios on Land Use Change with an Agent-Based Model
Land 2015, 4(4), 1110-1137; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4041110 - 24 Nov 2015
Cited by 6
Abstract
We developed an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate farmers’ decisions on crop type and fertilizer application in response to commodity and biofuel crop prices. Farm profit maximization constrained by farmers’ profit expectations for land committed to biofuel crop production was used as the [...] Read more.
We developed an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate farmers’ decisions on crop type and fertilizer application in response to commodity and biofuel crop prices. Farm profit maximization constrained by farmers’ profit expectations for land committed to biofuel crop production was used as the decision rule. Empirical parameters characterizing farmers’ profit expectations were derived from an agricultural landowners and operators survey and integrated in the ABM. The integration of crop production cost models and the survey information in the ABM is critical to producing simulations that can provide realistic insights into agricultural land use planning and policy making. Model simulations were run with historical market prices and alternative market scenarios for corn price, soybean to corn price ratio, switchgrass price, and switchgrass to corn stover ratio. The results of the comparison between simulated cropland percentage and crop rotations with satellite-based land cover data suggest that farmers may be underestimating the effects that continuous corn production has on yields. The simulation results for alternative market scenarios based on a survey of agricultural land owners and operators in the Clear Creek Watershed in eastern Iowa show that farmers see cellulosic biofuel feedstock production in the form of perennial grasses or corn stover as a more risky enterprise than their current crop production systems, likely because of market and production risks and lock in effects. As a result farmers do not follow a simple farm-profit maximization rule. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Why Don’t More Farmers Go Organic? Using A Stakeholder-Informed Exploratory Agent-Based Model to Represent the Dynamics of Farming Practices in the Philippines
Land 2015, 4(4), 979-1002; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4040979 - 22 Oct 2015
Cited by 9
Abstract
In spite of a growing interest in organic agriculture; there has been relatively little research on why farmers might choose to adopt organic methods, particularly in the developing world. To address this shortcoming, we developed an exploratory agent-based model depicting Philippine smallholder farmer [...] Read more.
In spite of a growing interest in organic agriculture; there has been relatively little research on why farmers might choose to adopt organic methods, particularly in the developing world. To address this shortcoming, we developed an exploratory agent-based model depicting Philippine smallholder farmer decisions to implement organic techniques in rice paddy systems. Our modeling exercise was novel in its combination of three characteristics: first, agent rules were based on focus group data collected in the system of study. Second, a social network structure was built into the model. Third, we utilized variance-based sensitivity analysis to quantify model outcome variability, identify influential drivers, and suggest ways in which further modeling efforts could be focused and simplified. The model results indicated an upper limit on the number of farmers adopting organic methods. The speed of information spread through the social network; crop yields; and the size of a farmer’s plot were highly influential in determining agents’ adoption rates. The results of this stylized model indicate that rates of organic farming adoption are highly sensitive to the yield drop after switchover to organic techniques, and to the speed of information spread through existing social networks. Further research and model development should focus on these system characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Simulation vs. Definition: Differing Approaches to Setting Probabilities for Agent Behaviour
Land 2015, 4(4), 914-937; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4040914 - 25 Sep 2015
Cited by 9
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
An Approach for Simulating Soil Loss from an Agro-Ecosystem Using Multi-Agent Simulation: A Case Study for Semi-Arid Ghana
Land 2015, 4(3), 607-626; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4030607 - 24 Jul 2015
Cited by 9
Abstract
Soil loss is not limited to change from forest or woodland to other land uses/covers. It may occur when there is agricultural land-use/cover modification or conversion. Soil loss may influence loss of carbon from the soil, hence implication on greenhouse gas emission. Changing [...] Read more.
Soil loss is not limited to change from forest or woodland to other land uses/covers. It may occur when there is agricultural land-use/cover modification or conversion. Soil loss may influence loss of carbon from the soil, hence implication on greenhouse gas emission. Changing land use could be considered actually or potentially successful in adapting to climate change, or may be considered maladaptation if it creates environmental degradation. In semi-arid northern Ghana, changing agricultural practices have been identified amongst other climate variability and climate change adaptation measures. Similarly, some of the policies aimed at improving farm household resilience toward climate change impact might necessitate land use change. The heterogeneity of farm household (agents) cannot be ignored when addressing land use/cover change issues, especially when livelihood is dependent on land. This paper therefore presents an approach for simulating soil loss from an agro-ecosystem using multi-agent simulation (MAS). We adapted a universal soil loss equation as a soil loss sub-model in the Vea-LUDAS model (a MAS model). Furthermore, for a 20-year simulation period, we presented the impact of agricultural land-use adaptation strategy (maize cultivation credit i.e., maize credit scenario) on soil loss and compared it with the baseline scenario i.e., business-as-usual. Adoption of maize as influenced by maize cultivation credit significantly influenced agricultural land-use change in the study area. Although there was no significant difference in the soil loss under the tested scenarios, the incorporation of human decision-making in a temporal manner allowed us to view patterns that cannot be seen in single step modeling. The study shows that opening up cropland on soil with a high erosion risk has implications for soil loss. Hence, effective measures should be put in place to prevent the opening up of lands that have high erosion risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
How to Make a Barranco: Modeling Erosion and Land-Use in Mediterranean Landscapes
Land 2015, 4(3), 578-606; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4030578 - 14 Jul 2015
Cited by 11
Abstract
We use the hybrid modeling laboratory of the Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics (MedLanD) Project to simulate barranco incision in eastern Spain under different scenarios of natural and human environmental change. We carry out a series of modeling experiments set in the Rio Penaguila valley [...] Read more.
We use the hybrid modeling laboratory of the Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics (MedLanD) Project to simulate barranco incision in eastern Spain under different scenarios of natural and human environmental change. We carry out a series of modeling experiments set in the Rio Penaguila valley of northern Alicante Province. The MedLanD Modeling Laboratory (MML) is able to realistically simulate gullying and incision in a multi-dimensional, spatially explicit virtual landscape. We first compare erosion modeled in wooded and denuded landscapes in the absence of human land-use. We then introduce simulated small-holder (e.g., prehistoric Neolithic) farmer/herders in six experiments, by varying community size (small, medium, large) and land management strategy (satisficing and maximizing). We compare the amount and location of erosion under natural and anthropogenic conditions. Natural (e.g., climatically induced) land-cover change produces a distinctly different signature of landscape evolution than does land-cover change produced by agropastoral land-use. Human land-use induces increased coupling between hillslopes and channels, resulting in increased downstream incision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Sensitivity Analysis of a Land-Use Change Model with and without Agents to Assess Land Abandonment and Long-Term Re-Forestation in a Swiss Mountain Region
Land 2015, 4(2), 475-512; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4020475 - 08 Jun 2015
Cited by 14
Abstract
Land abandonment and the subsequent re-forestation are important drivers behind the loss of ecosystem services in mountain regions. Agent-based models can help to identify global change impacts on farmland abandonment and can test policy and management options to counteract this development. Realigning the [...] Read more.
Land abandonment and the subsequent re-forestation are important drivers behind the loss of ecosystem services in mountain regions. Agent-based models can help to identify global change impacts on farmland abandonment and can test policy and management options to counteract this development. Realigning the representation of human decision making with time scales of ecological processes such as reforestation presents a major challenge in this context. Models either focus on the agent-specific behavior anchored in the current generation of farmers at the expense of representing longer scale environmental processes or they emphasize the simulation of long-term economic and forest developments where representation of human behavior is simplified in time and space. In this context, we compare the representation of individual and aggregated decision-making in the same model structure and by doing so address some implications of choosing short or long term time horizons in land-use modeling. Based on survey data, we integrate dynamic agents into a comparative static economic sector supply model in a Swiss mountain region. The results from an extensive sensitivity analysis show that this agent-based land-use change model can reproduce observed data correctly and that both model versions are sensitive to the same model parameters. In particular, in both models the specification of opportunity costs determines the extent of production activities and land-use changes by restricting the output space. Our results point out that the agent-based model can capture short and medium term developments in land abandonment better than the aggregated version without losing its sensitivity to important socio-economic drivers. For comparative static approaches, extensive sensitivity analysis with respect to opportunity costs, i.e., the measure of benefits forgone due to alternative uses of labor is essential for the assessment of the impact of climate change on land abandonment and re-forestation in mountain regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Landscape Epidemiology Modeling Using an Agent-Based Model and a Geographic Information System
Land 2015, 4(2), 378-412; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4020378 - 13 May 2015
Cited by 8
Abstract
A landscape epidemiology modeling framework is presented which integrates the simulation outputs from an established spatial agent-based model (ABM) of malaria with a geographic information system (GIS). For a study area in Kenya, five landscape scenarios are constructed with varying coverage levels of [...] Read more.
A landscape epidemiology modeling framework is presented which integrates the simulation outputs from an established spatial agent-based model (ABM) of malaria with a geographic information system (GIS). For a study area in Kenya, five landscape scenarios are constructed with varying coverage levels of two mosquito-control interventions. For each scenario, maps are presented to show the average distributions of three output indices obtained from the results of 750 simulation runs. Hot spot analysis is performed to detect statistically significant hot spots and cold spots. Additional spatial analysis is conducted using ordinary kriging with circular semivariograms for all scenarios. The integration of epidemiological simulation-based results with spatial analyses techniques within a single modeling framework can be a valuable tool for conducting a variety of disease control activities such as exploring new biological insights, monitoring epidemiological landscape changes, and guiding resource allocation for further investigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Agent-Based Models as “Interested Amateurs”
Land 2015, 4(2), 281-299; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4020281 - 14 Apr 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
This paper proposes the use of agent-based models (ABMs) as “interested amateurs” in policy making, and uses the example of the SWAP model of soil and water conservation adoption to demonstrate the potential of this approach. Daniel Dennett suggests experts often talk past [...] Read more.
This paper proposes the use of agent-based models (ABMs) as “interested amateurs” in policy making, and uses the example of the SWAP model of soil and water conservation adoption to demonstrate the potential of this approach. Daniel Dennett suggests experts often talk past or misunderstand each other, seek to avoid offending each other or appearing ill-informed and generally err on the side of under-explaining a topic. Dennett suggests that these issues can be overcome by including “interested amateurs” in discussions between experts. In the context of land use policy debates, and policy making more generally, this paper suggests that ABMs have particular characteristics that make them excellent potential “interested amateurs” in discussions between our experts: policy stakeholders. This is demonstrated using the SWAP (Soil and Water Conservation Adoption) model, which was used with policy stakeholders in Ethiopia. The model was successful in focussing discussion, inviting criticism, dealing with sensitive topics and drawing out understanding between stakeholders. However, policy stakeholders were still hesitant about using such a tool. This paper reflects on these findings and attempts to plot a way forward for the use of ABMs as “interested amateurs” and, in the process, make clear the differences in approach to other participatory modelling efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Examining Social Adaptations in a Volatile Landscape in Northern Mongolia via the Agent-Based Model Ger Grouper
Land 2015, 4(1), 157-181; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4010157 - 03 Mar 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
The environment of the mountain-steppe-taiga of northern Mongolia is often characterized as marginal because of the high altitude, highly variable precipitation levels, low winter temperatures, and periodic droughts coupled with severe winter storms (known as dzuds). Despite these conditions, herders have inhabited [...] Read more.
The environment of the mountain-steppe-taiga of northern Mongolia is often characterized as marginal because of the high altitude, highly variable precipitation levels, low winter temperatures, and periodic droughts coupled with severe winter storms (known as dzuds). Despite these conditions, herders have inhabited this landscape for thousands of years, and hunter-gatherer-fishers before that. One way in which the risks associated with such a challenging and variable landscape are mitigated is through social networks and inter-family cooperation. We present an agent-based simulation, Ger Grouper, to examine how households have mitigated these risks through cooperation. The Ger Grouper simulation takes into account locational decisions of households, looks at fission/fusion dynamics of households and how those relate to environmental pressures, and assesses how degrees of relatedness can influence sharing of resources during harsh winters. This model, coupled with the traditional archaeological and ethnographic methods, helps shed light on the links between early Mongolian pastoralist adaptations and the environment. While preliminary results are promising, it is hoped that further development of this model will be able to characterize changing land-use patterns as social and political networks developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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