Pattern-oriented modelling: a 'multi-scope' for predictive systems ecology.
Published on Jan 19, 2012in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B6.139
· DOI :10.1098/rstb.2011.0180
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.