Hands-on Ecological Model Development

September 9-10, 2015

USACE New England District, Concord, Massachusetts

 

Instructors

Kyle McKay, ERDC Environmental Laboratory, Athens, Georgia, kyle.mckay@usace.army.mil, 601-415-7160

Todd Swannack, ERDC Environmental Laboratory, Austin, Texas, todd.m.swannack@usace.army.mil, 601-415-3509

Nathan Richards, Ecosystem Restoration Planning Center of Expertise, Rock Island, Illinois, nathan.s.richards@usace.army.mil, 309-230-3804

 

Course Objectives

         Develop familiarity with the types and purposes of ecological models.

         Understand the process for selection and development of a model.

         Foster good ecological modeling practice including: conceptualization, quantification, evaluation, application, documentation, and peer review.

         Develop comfort with communicating models.

         Recognize that you are a modeler.

 

Course Format

Ecological modeling capability is a growing need across business lines in the Corps of Engineers, and this course seeks to provide basic ecological modeling skills to attendees.However, the instructors firmly believe that the best way to learn modeling is through practice, not instruction or reading!As such, the course is structured around some lectures, but also hands-on modeling exercises.Our hope is that the teams will execute the model development process from conceptualization through application and walk away with a simple model for their own projects.Since modeling is iterative, this will NOT be a finalized tool, but instead a jumping off point for continued model development.

 

Course Schedule

 

Day 1

 

800

Welcoming remarks, classroom orientation / logistics, introductions, and review course objectives / schedule

Swannack

 

830

USACE Restoration and Planning

Richards

Lecture

930

BREAK

 

 

945

Measuring Ecological Outcomes

McKay

Lecture

1030

Modeling basics

McKay

Lecture

1130

LUNCH

 

 

1230

Modeling 1: Conceptualization

McKay

Lecture

130

Lab 1: Conceptualization

All

Class Exercise

215

BREAK

 

 

230

Modeling 2: Quantification

Swannack

Lecture

330

Lab 2: Quantification

All

See prior

430

Team Report-outs

Teams

 

455

Daily Review: Goods and Betters

McKay

 

500

ADJOURN

 

 

 

Day 2

 

800

Modeling 3: Evaluation

Swannack

Lecture

900

Lab 3: Evaluation

All

See prior

945

BREAK

 

 

1000

Modeling 4: Application + Communication

McKay / Swannack

Lecture A

Lecture B

1100

Lab 4: Application + Communication

All

See prior

1145

LUNCH

 

 

100

Team Report-outs

Teams

Pictures!

145

Model Certification

Richards

Lecture

215

Avoiding spreadsheet errors and coding basics

McKay

Lecture

Sample Code

300

BREAK

 

 

315

Model selection, adaption, and integration

Swannack

Lecture

415

Incorporating spatial dynamics

Swannack

Lecture

445

Course Reviews: Verbal and Written

McKay

Review

Results

500

ADJOURN

 

 

 

Our favorite modeling books:

 

Adams M.L. et al.2012.Assessing the reliability of complex models.The National Academies Press.

 

Bolker B.2008.Ecological models and data in R.Princeton University Press.

 

Grant W.E. and Swannack T.M.2008.Ecological modeling: A common-sense approach to theory and practice. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

 

Railsback S.F. and Grimm V.2011.Agent-based and individual-based modeling: A practical introduction.Princeton University Press.

 

Westervelt J.D. and Cohen G.L.2012.Ecologist-developed spatially-explicit dynamic landscape models.Springer.

 

Important USACE Modeling Resources:

 

Model Certification Homepage

 

Ecosystem Restoration Model Library

 

SMART Planning Homepage

 

Planning Guidance Notebook (big pdf)

 

Government Documents:

 

Casper A.F., Efroymson R.A., Davis S.M., Steyer G., and Zettle B.2010. Improving conceptual model development: Avoiding underperformance due to project uncertainties.ERDC-TN-EMRRP-EBA-5.US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

Fischenich J.C.2008.The application of conceptual models to ecosystem restoration.ERDC/EBA TN-08-01.US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

Fischenich J.C., McKay S.K., Miller S.J., Price D., Pruitt B.A., Skaggs L.L., Suedel B.C., and Tazik D.2013.Science-based framework for environmental benefits assessment.ERDC EL TR-13-4.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

Henderson J.E. and O'Neil L.J.2005.Conceptual models to support environmental planning and operations. ERDC/TN SMART-04-9. U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.

 

Henderson J.E. and O�Neil L.J.2007.Template for conceptual model construction: Model review and Corps applications.ERDC TN-SWWRP-07-4.US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

Henderson J.E. and O�Neil L.J. 2007.Template for conceptual model construction: Model components and application of the template. ERDC TN-SWWRP-07-7.US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

McKay S.K.2009.Reducing spreadsheet errors.ERDC TN-EMRRP-EBA-03.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

McKay S.K. and Fischenich J.C.2014.Uncertainty and sensitivity of ecosystem restoration decisions: A case study from coastal Louisiana.ERDC TN-EMRRP-EBA-21.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

McKay S.K. and Fischenich J.C.2014.Case study: Sensitivity analysis of the Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline Wetland Value Assessment model.ERDC TN-EMRRP-EBA-20.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

McKay S.K. and Pruitt B.A.2012.An approach for developing regional environmental benefits analysis models.ERDC TN-EMRRP-EBA-14.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

 

Reif M.K. and Swannack T.M.2014.Development of landscape metrics to support process-driven ecological modeling.ERDC/EL TR-14-6. U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.

 

Swannack T.M., Fischenich J.C., and Tazik D.J.2012. Ecological Modeling Guide for Ecosystem Restoration and Management.ERDC/EL TR-12-18. U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.

 

Journal Papers:

 

Addison P.F.E., Rumpff L., Bau S.S., Carey J.M., Chee Y.E., Jarrad F.C., McBride M.F., and Burgman M.A.2013.Practical solutions for making models indispensable in conservation decision-making.Diversity and Distributions, 19, 490-502.

 

Box G.E.P.1979.Robustness in the strategy of scientific model building.Technical Summary Report 1954.Mathematics Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

Boyd E.L.2012.The art of ecological modeling.Science, 337, 306-307.

 

Canessa S., Guillera-Arroita G., Lahoz-Monfort J., Southwell D.M., Armstrong D.P., Chades I., Lacy R.C., and Converse S.J.In press.When do we need more data?A primer on calculating the value of information for applied ecologists.Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

 

Fawcett T.W. and Higginson A.D.2012.Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109 (29), 11735-11739.

 

Gregory R.S. and Keeney R.L.2002.Making smarter environmental management decisions.Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 38 (6), 1601-1612.

 

Hall D.M., Swannack T.M., Lazarus E.D., Peterson M.J., Gilbertz S.J., Horton C.C., and Peterson T.R.2015.Integrating social power and political influence into models of socio-ecological systems.European Journal of Sustainable Development, 4 (2), 61-76.

 

Hall D.M., Lazarus E.D., and Swannack T.M.2014.Strategies for communicating systems models.Environmental Modelling & Software, 55, 70-76.

 

Langsdale S., Beall A., Bourget E., Hagen E., Kudlas S., Palmer R., Tate D., and Werick W.2013.Collaborative modeling for decision support in water resources: Principles and best practices.Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 49 (3), 629-638

 

Mace G.M., Hails R.S., Cryle P., Harlow J., and Clarke S.J.2015.Towards a risk register for natural capital.Journal of Applied Ecology, 52, 641-653.

 

Matott L.S., Babendreier J.E., and Purucker S.T.2009.Evaluating uncertainty in integrated environmental models: A review of concepts and tools.Water Resources Research, 45, doi: 10.1029/2008WR007301.

 

Robinson O.J., Lockwood J.L., Stringham O.C., and Fefferman N.H.2015.A novel tool for making policy recommendations based on PVA: Helping theory become practice.Conservation Letters, 8 (3), 190-198.

 

Rose K.A., Sable S., DeAngelis D.L., Yurek S., Trexler J.C., Graf W., and Reed D.J.2015.Proposed best modeling practices for assessing the effects of ecosystem restoration on fish.Ecological Modelling, 12-29.

 

Schmolke A., Thorbek P., DeAngelis D.L., and Grimm V.2010. Ecological models supporting environmental decision making: A strategy for the future.Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25: 479-486.

 

Swannack T.M., Grant W.E., and Forstner M.R.J.2009.Projecting population trends of endangered amphibian species in the face of uncertainty: A pattern-oriented approach.Ecological Modelling, 220, 148-159.