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Characterizing sensitivity and uncertainty in a multiscale model of a complex coral reef system


Melbourne-Thomas, J and Johnson, CR and Fulton, EA, Characterizing sensitivity and uncertainty in a multiscale model of a complex coral reef system, Ecological Modelling: International Journal on Ecological Modelling and Engineering and Systems Ecology, 222, (18) pp. 3320-3334. ISSN 0304-3800 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.07.014


Sensitivity and uncertainty are intrinsic properties of ecological models, and their characterization is an important step in the modelling process. We use a spatially explicit multi-scale model of a coral reef system to explore four aspects of model sensitivity and uncertainty: (i) sensitivity to initial conditions; (ii) sensitivity to parameter values; (iii) sensitivity to spatio-temporal resolution; and (iv) the effects of uncertainty about spatio-temporal variability of ecological processes on the shape of distributions of model predictions. We use reef community composition, visualized in multivariate space, as a response variable. This approach provides an easily interpretable representation of changes in reef community composition under different parameter conditions and spatio-temporal resolutions. It is also a useful means to visualize distributions of model outcomes under differing assumptions about the nature of variability in ecological processes in the real world. Our results indicate that reef state and recovery trajectories are particularly sensitive to parameters determining coral growth and mortality rates. Variability in model outcomes depends on assumptions about the way parameters vary in space and time, and is greater at local scales than at subregional and regional scales. We highlight the fact that predictions based on the kind of model presented here are likely to be more robust for subregions and regions than for particular reef localities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Coral reefs; ecosystem model; spatially explicit; sensitivity; uncertainty
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Melbourne-Thomas, J (Dr Jessica Melbourne-Thomas)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CR (Professor Craig Johnson)
UTAS Author:Fulton, EA (Dr Elizabeth Fulton)
ID Code:73010
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2011-09-06
Last Modified:2018-02-16
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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