Modelling the third dimension: Incorporating topography into the movement rules of an individual-based spatially explicit population model

Alderman, J.; Hinsley, S. A.. 2007 Modelling the third dimension: Incorporating topography into the movement rules of an individual-based spatially explicit population model. Ecological Complexity, 4 (4). 169-181.

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A wide variety of topographical and environmental elements have been shown or proposed to influence the movement decisions of dispersing animals. Most real landscapes have topographical elements such as hills, valleys and urban developments, which can all act to modify a species’ perceptual range and directly influence movement behaviour. If a visual-based perceptual ability enables a dispersing individual to locate suitable habitat patches at a distance, then it is to be expected that topographical features would act to modify the overall success of this strategy. However, the majority of individual-based Spatially Explicit Population Models (SEPM) employ only two-dimensional landscapes. To investigate the effects of topographical elevation on dispersal patterns, a three-dimensional visual-based perceptual range algorithm was added to the dispersal rules of an individual-based SEPM. To explore the possible influences of a behavioural-based response to topography, an algorithm modelling valley-seeking behaviour was also developed. The performance of both algorithms was compared with that of a two-dimensional visual-based perceptual range algorithm. The overall consequences of dispersal under each algorithm were measured by recording population sizes in a target wood in the centre of a modelled, real landscape. The size of the population in the target wood, modelled using both of the three-dimensional algorithms, exhibited sensitivity to the direction of dispersal in interaction with perceptual range, which differed from that predicted by the two-dimensional approach. Population size was dependant on the spatial configuration of habitat patches and on the topography of the landscape, both of which could guide dispersers either towards or away from the target patch depending on the particular combinations of dispersal directions and perceptual ranges selected. Topography was found to have a greater effect on dispersal at shorter perceptual ranges, and thresholds in the results for all three algorithms suggested the existence of species and landscape dependant optimal perceptual ranges. It is recommended that both topography and topographical-based dispersal-altering algorithms, commensurate with the studied species’ behaviour, be incorporated into the movement rule-base of dispersal simulation models. The modelling of topography and its effects on movement in patchy landscapes are seen as essential ingredients in future landscape planning.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD01 Conservation and Restoration of Biodiversity > BD01.3 Population and community processes
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1476-945X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The definitive version of this paper is available at
Additional Keywords: elevation, dispersal, PatchMapper, perceptual range, SEPM, topography
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 08 Nov 2007 15:44 +0 (UTC)

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