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Agent-based modelling and simulation applied to environmental management

Le Page C., Bazile D., Becu N., Bommel P., Bousquet F., Etienne M., Mathevet R., Souchère V., Trébuil G., Weber J.. 2013. In : Edmonds Bruce (ed.), Meyer Ruth (ed.). Simulating social complexity : a handbook. Heidelberg : Springer [Allemagne], p. 499-540. (Understanding complex systems).

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-93813-2_19

The purpose of this chapter is to summarize how agent-based modelling and simulation (ABMS) is being used in the area of environmental management. With the science of complex systems now being widely recognized as an appropriate one to tackle the main issues of ecological management, ABMS is emerging as one of the most promising approaches. To avoid any confusion and disbelief about the actual usefulness of ABMS, the objectives of the modelling process have to be unambiguously made explicit. It is still quite common to consider ABMS as mostly useful to deliver recommendations to a lone decision-maker, yet a variety of different purposes have progressively emerged, from gaining understanding through raising awareness, facilitating communication, promoting coordination or mitigating conflicts. Whatever the goal, the description of an agent-based model remains challenging. Some standard protocols have been recently proposed, but still a comprehensive description requires a lot of space, often too much for the maximum length of a paper authorized by a scientific journal. To account for the diversity and the swelling of ABMS in the field of ecological management, a review of recent publications based on a lightened descriptive framework is proposed. The objective of these descriptions is not to allow the replication of the models but rather to characterize the types of spatial representation, the properties of the agents, the features of the scenarios that have been explored, and also to mention which simulation platforms were used to implement them (if any). This chapter concludes with a discussion of recurrent questions and stimulating challenges currently faced by ABMS for environmental management.

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