Simulation of Ecological and Environmental Models: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Simulation of Ecological and Environmental Models

1st Edition

By Miguel F. Acevedo

CRC Press

486 pages | 265 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2012-08-25
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Given the importance of interdisciplinary work in sustainability, Simulation of Ecological and Environmental Models introduces the theory and practice of modeling and simulation as applied in a variety of disciplines that deal with earth systems, the environment, ecology, and human–nature interactions. Based on the author’s many years of teaching graduate and undergraduate students in the United States, Spain, and Latin America, the textbook shows how to implement simulations and analyze the results using an open-source software platform.

Learn How to Use a Broad Range of Environmental Models

The textbook is organized into three parts to allow greater flexibility using the material in various countries and types of curricula. The first part provides a tutorial-style mathematical review and a gentle introduction to the basics of R software. The second part explains the fundamentals of modeling methodology through one-dimensional models. After a review of matrix algebra, the third part progresses to multidimensional models, focusing on structured populations, communities, and ecosystems. The final chapters show how simple models are hooked together to generate more comprehensive models.

Build from Fundamental Concepts to Problem Solving

Each chapter starts with conceptual and theoretical material to give a firm foundation in how the methods work. Examples and exercises illustrate the applications and demonstrate how to go from concepts to problem solving. Hands-on computer sessions let students grasp the practical implications and learn by doing. Throughout, the computer examples and exercises use seem, an open-source R package developed by the author, which lets students quickly produce simulations and explore the effects of changing conditions in the model.

This practical book is a comprehensive, unified presentation of ecological and environmental models. It describes the mathematical fundamentals to analyze models and the methodology to simulate them, with a focus on understanding environmental change—a key element of environmental management and problem solving.


"Professor Acevedo's considerable experience in teaching graduate-level courses in environmental modeling has been nicely captured in this excellent and accessible textbook. He covers the field in sufficient breadth to introduce the student to virtually all aspects of environmental modeling, with sufficient depth to convey both the theory and practicality of each topic. This book particularly excels in its hands-on approach, guiding students through its many exercises and computer sessions so that understanding of each topic is achieved, and the student is provided with the tools necessary to delve further into developing and applying quantitative models for environmental studies. Professor Acevedo's book challenges students to think through not only the what and the how of modeling, but also the why. Thus, he has successfully achieved his central objective, to present a unified method of teaching that is commensurate with the interdisciplinary and quantitative approaches required today to study and understand complex ecological systems."

—Mark A. Harwell, Harwell Gentile & Associates, LC, Port Orange, Florida, USA

"Acevedo’s new text for environmental simulation is a welcome addition to those now available. The text is based on R (a package of models accompanies the book), and this choice makes it a useful option. The presentation is aimed at classes for early graduate students in the environmental sciences and engineering, but the rigor and hands-on nature of the advanced chapters are complemented by still advanced but accessible introductions to the necessary math and modeling concepts. Courses taught with this text will be challenging, potentially fun, and a great jump-start in environmental simulation for grad students."

—George P. Malanson, University of Iowa, USA

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction, Mathematical Review, and Software Fundamentals


Modeling and Simulation

Process-Based Dynamic Models

Applications of Environmental Modeling

Modeling Methodology

Book Organization

Simulation Platforms

Computer Session

Supplementary Reading

Review of Basic Mathematical Concepts and Introduction to R



Derivatives and Optimization

Integrals and Area

Ordinary Differential Equations

Functions of Several Variables

Random Variables and Distributions

Random Variables and Moments

Some Important Random Variables

Covariance and Correlation

Computer Session

Part II One-Dimensional Models and Fundamentals of Modeling Methodology

Exponential Model



Population Dynamics

Chemical Fate

Model Terms

Review of Simple Linear Regression

Model Calibration: Parameter Estimation

Nonlinear Regression

Computer Session

Model Simulation

Concepts of Computer Simulation Based on Ordinary Differential Equations

Euler Method

Fourth-Order Runge–Kutta Method

Random Number Generation

Stochastic Simulation

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Model Evaluation

Testing the Numerical Method and the Code

Graphical Evaluation

Testing the Model

Testing the Parameter Values: Sensitivity Analysis

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Nonlinear Models

Populations: Logistic Growth

Fate of Chemicals: Michaelis–Menten–Monod

Monod Kinetics

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Stability and Disturbances



Variability and Stress

Sudden and Impulsive Disturbances

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Sensitivity Analysis, Response Surfaces, and Scenarios

Multiparameter Sensitivity Analysis

Response Surface and Scenarios

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Part III Multidimensional Models: Structured Populations, Communities, and Ecosystems

Linear Dynamical Systems


Dimensions of a Matrix


Square Matrices

Matrix Operations

Solving Systems of Linear Algebraic Equations

Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors

Linear Dynamical Systems: Constant Coefficients

Computer Session: Matrix Algebra

Structured Population Models

Types of Structure

Methods of Model Structure

Projection Matrices


Continuous Time Stage Structured Model

Delay-Differential Equations

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Ecotoxicological Modeling



Effects: Lethal and Sublethal

Including Food Pathways

Compartment Models

Bioaccumulation: Two-Compartment Model

Bioaccumulation: Multicompartment

Bioaccumulation: Varying Exposure

Population Effects

Risk Assessment

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Community Dynamics

Two-State System Concepts

Two Species: Simple Interactions

Cycles in Two-Species Consumer–Resource Interactions

Two Species: Disturbances

Two Species: Structured Populations

More Than Two Species, But Not Too Many

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Ecosystems: Nutrients and Energy

Nutrient Cycles

Closed Cycles

Open Cycles

Nutrient Cycle Examples

Nutrient Cycle Example: Aquatic Ecosystems

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Primary Productivity

Secondary and Tertiary Productivity

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Aquatic Ecosystems

Environmental Drivers

Solar Radiation

Light as a Function of Depth

Dissolved Oxygen and Primary Productivity

River Eutrophication

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Terrestrial Ecosystems: Soils, Plants, and Water

Weather Generators


Soil Water Dynamics

Soil Water Balance

Infiltration and Runoff

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained

Terrestrial Ecosystems: Vegetation Dynamics

Individual-Based Approach

Growth Equation

Allometric Relationships

Diameter Ordinary Differential Equation

Environmental Conditions

Estimation of Gmax


Soil Moisture



Tree Population Demography

Model Responses

Deterministic and Lumped Model

Markovian Models

Computer Session

Seem Functions Explained



About the Author

Miguel F. Acevedo has 38 years of academic experience, the last 20 of these as faculty member of the University of North Texas (UNT). His career has been interdisciplinary, especially at the interface of science and engineering. He obtained his Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of California Berkeley and master degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. Prior to UNT, he was at the Universidad de Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela, where he taught for 18 years. He has served on the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on many review panels of the U.S. National Science Foundation. He has received numerous research grants and written many journal articles, book chapters, and proceedings articles. UNT has recognized him with the Regent’s Professor rank, the Citation for Distinguished Service to International Education, and the Regent’s Faculty Lectureship. For more information, see Dr. Acevedo’s page at UNT.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / General
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / General