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Choosing classes for size projection matrix models

Picard N., Ouédraogo D.Y., Bar-Hen A.. 2010. Ecological Modelling, 221 (19) : p. 2270-2279.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.06.010

Projection matrix models are intensely used in ecology to model the dynamics of structured populations. When dealing with size-structured populations, there is no satisfactory algorithm to partition size into discrete classes. We show that the Vandermeer-Moloney algorithm for choosing classes is inconsistent with the Usher model, and systematically selects the finest classes. Considering that the matrix model is a discrete approximation of a continuous model, we define an approximation error as the sum of a distribution error (the difference between the discrete distribution and its continuous counterpart), and a sample error. The optimal partition of size into classes is the one that minimizes the approximation error. This method for choosing classes also shows that the choice of the class width cannot be disconnected from the choice of the time step. When applied to 520 trees of Dicorynia guianensis in French Guiana, this algorithm identified 8 classes of 11.4cm in width, which is in agreement with the empirical choice of foresters.

Mots-clés : arbre forestier; forêt tropicale humide; modélisation environnementale; caesalpinioideae; dynamique des populations; peuplement forestier; modèle mathématique; Échantillonnage; croissance; mesure; guyane française; france; dicorynia guianensis

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