A Collaborative Process for Multidisciplinary Group Modeling Projects
Many ecosystem management issues can be illuminated using small, expedient simulation models that may be developed by one or two people. However, modeling more complex or dynamic systems may require larger development teams that include experts from multiple technical disciplines. Such collaborations can produce highly explanatory models with broad possibilities for application, but the process of staffing a development team and coordinating its efforts must be carefully managed and documented. This chapter describes a three-stage development process that encompasses model preparation, construction, and integration. Key concepts include clear identification and communication of modeling objectives; team recruitment, scheduling, and dynamics; conceptualizing the full model and submodels; development of submodels within a functional “dummy” model; and integration, debugging, and compiling of the model. Essential factors for success are clear communication among all project workgroups and careful documentation of development. By adhering to this time-tested process, multidisciplinary teams can use a simple development platform such as NetLogo (http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/) to create rich, dynamic simulations.
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