Marco Janssen

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Research Interests

I am a Professor in the School of Sustainability and the Director of the Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment. I want to understand how people solve collective problems at different levels of scale, especially those problems related to sustainability of our environment. Our society experience unprecedented challenged to sustain common resource for future generations at a scale we have never experienced before. What makes groups cooperate? What is the role of information? How does the ecological context affect the social fabric? How do they deal with a changing environment? How can we use these insight to address global challenges? To do this research I combine behavioral experiments, agent-based modeling and case study analysis.

Evolution of cooperative strategies from first principles

Marco Janssen | Published Mon Jan 4 22:49:23 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:30 2013

The purpose of this model is to study the evolution of cooperation when agents are endowed with a limited set of receptors, a set of elementary actions and a neural network agents use to make decision

Evolution of cooperation with strangers

Marco Janssen | Published Fri Oct 15 20:05:27 2010 | Last modified Wed Nov 13 23:46:20 2013

The model is used to study the conditions under which agents will cooperate in one-shot two-player Prisoner’s Dilemma games if they are able to withdraw from playing the game and can learn to recogniz

Lansing-Kremer model of the Balinese irrigation system

Marco Janssen | Published Mon Jun 16 22:33:16 2008 | Last modified Tue Dec 16 05:18:53 2014

This is a NetLogo replication of the hill-climbing version of the Lansing-Kremer model of Balinese irrigation.

Peer reviewed Artificial Anasazi

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Sep 7 05:18:37 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:23 2013

Replication of the well known Artificial Anasazi model that simulates the population dynamics between 800 and 1350 in the Long House Valley in Arizona.

Evolution of altruistic punishment

Marco Janssen | Published Wed Sep 3 21:01:26 2008 | Last modified Sat Mar 9 01:22:54 2019

In the model agents make decisions to contribute of not to the public good of a group, and cooperators may punish, at a cost, defectors. The model is based on group selection, and is used to understan

Population aggregation in ancient arid environments

Marco Janssen | Published Tue May 4 18:26:43 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:43 2013

The purpose of this model is to help understand how prehistoric societies adapted to the prehistoric American southwest landscape. In the American southwest there is a high degree of environmental var

Model to simulation the landscape of possible shedding games

Marco Janssen | Published Sun May 16 21:16:34 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:40 2013

This model simulates 2048 versions of shedding games and evaluates the consequences on the average length and the difficulty of the game agents experience. The purpose of the model is to understand th

Evolution of shedding games

Marco Janssen | Published Sun May 16 21:20:17 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:32 2013

This simulates the evolution of rules of shedding games based on cultural group selection. A number of groups play shedding games and evaluate the consequences on the average length and the difficulty

Tuberculosis and helminthes

Marco Janssen Nathan Rollins Alhaji Cherif Marcel Hurtado | Published Sat Jun 5 02:22:57 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:51 2013

The purpose of this model is to investigate the consequences of helminthes in public health policy to eradicate tuberculosis. Helminthes surprise immune system responses and without changes in hygiene

Peer reviewed Evolution of Cooperation in Asymmetric Commons Dilemmas

Marco Janssen Nathan Rollins | Published Fri Aug 20 18:41:16 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:30 2013

This model can be used to explore under which conditions agents behave as observed in field experiments on irrigation games.

Evolution of cooperation via indirect reciprocity by image scoring

Marco Janssen | Published Fri Oct 22 19:35:45 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:30 2013

The model explores the possibility of the evolution of cooperation due to indirect reciprocity when agents derive information about the past behavior of the opponent in one-shot dilemma games.

Vulnerability of Cooperation Due to Limited Vision

Marco Janssen | Published Thu Dec 2 23:00:56 2010 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:53 2013

This model describes the consequences of limited vision of agents in harvesting a common resource. We show the vulnerability of cooperation due to reduced visibility of the resource and other agents.

Nudging agents in social networks for collective action

Marco Janssen | Published Sun Aug 14 15:38:44 2011 | Last modified Sun Mar 17 01:53:00 2019

Agents are linked in a social-network and make decisions on which of 2 types of behavior to adopt. We explore consequences of different information feedback and providing targeted feedback to individuals.

Irrigation game

Marco Janssen | Published Mon Jul 23 04:15:12 2012 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:37 2013

Irrigation game calibrated on experimental data

The model objective’s is to explore the management choice set to uncover which subsets of strategies are most effective at maximizing species coexistence on a fragmented landscape.

Peer reviewed Pumpa irrigation model

Irene Perez Ibarra Marco Janssen | Published Wed Jan 9 22:09:40 2013 | Last modified Sat Apr 27 20:18:43 2013

This is a replication of the Pumpa model that simulates the Pumpa Irrigation System in Nepal (Cifdaloz et al., 2010).

Comparing agent-based models on experimental data of irrigation games

Jacopo Baggio Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jul 2 18:26:39 2013 | Last modified Wed Jul 3 17:22:09 2013

Comparing 7 alternative models of human behavior and assess their performance on a high resolution dataset based on individual behavior performance in laboratory experiments.

Evolution of Conditional Cooperation

Marco Janssen Miles Manning Oyita Udiani | Published Thu Aug 1 04:03:07 2013 | Last modified Fri Dec 6 05:35:19 2013

Cultural group selection model used to evaluate the conditions for agents to evolve who have other-regarding preferences in making decisions in public good games.

Peer reviewed Ache hunting

Marco Janssen Kim Hill | Published Tue Aug 13 21:27:28 2013 | Last modified Fri Dec 21 00:51:33 2018

Agent-based model of hunting behavior of Ache hunter-gatherers from Paraguay. We evaluate the effect of group size and cooperative hunting

Cultural group selection model of agents playing public good games and who are able to punish and punish back.

A simple model of random encounters of materials that produces distributions as found in the archaeological record.

ABM mobility

Irene Pérez Ibarra Marco Janssen | Published Mon Nov 17 18:44:32 2014

The MOBILITY model analyzes how agents’ mobility affects the performance of social-ecological systems in different landscape configurations.

The purpose of the AdaptPumpa model is to analyze the robustness of the Pumpa irrigation system in Nepal to climate change.

Battle of Perspectives

Marco Janssen Bert Devries | Published Mon Dec 2 02:16:37 2013

How does the world population adapt its policies on energy when it is confronted with a climate change? This model combines a climate-economy model with adaptive agents.

A haystack-style model of group selection to capture the essential features of colony foundation for queens of the ant based on observation of the ant Pogonomyrmex californicus.

Effect of communication in irrigation games

Marco Janssen Jacopo Baggio | Published Wed Jan 14 04:08:32 2015 | Last modified Wed Aug 9 01:28:22 2017

The model includes different formulations how agents make decisions in irrigation games and this is compared with empirical data. The aim is to test different theoretical models, especially explaining effect of communication.

The original Ache model is used to explore different distributions of resources on the landscape and it’s effect on optimal strategies of the camps on hunting and camp movement.

We used a computer simulation to measure how well different network structures (fully connected, small world, lattice, and random) find and exploit resource peaks in a variable environment.

We developed an agent-based model to explore underlying mechanisms of behavioral clustering that we observed in human online shopping experiments.

Harvesting daisies in Daisyworld

Marco Janssen | Published Sat Jul 22 00:39:23 2017

Comparing impact of alternative behavioral theories in a simple social-ecological system.

We model the relationship between natural resource user´s individual time preferences and their use of destructive extraction method in the context of small-scale fisheries.

This model allows for the investigation of the effect spatial clustering of raw material sources has on the outcome of the neutral model of stone raw material procurement by Brantingham (2003).

The Opportunistic Acquisition Model (OAM) posits that the archaeological lithic raw material frequencies are due to opportunistic encounters with sources while randomly walking in an environment.

Lakeland 2

Marco Janssen Wander Jager | Published Tue Sep 12 17:50:56 2017

Lakeland 2 is a simple version of the original Lakeland of Jager et al. (2000) Ecological Economics 35(3): 357-380. The model can be used to explore the consequences of different behavioral assumptions on resource and social dynamics.

The Palaeo-Agulhas Plain formed an important habitat exploited by Pleistocene hunter-gatherer populations during periods of lower sea level. This productive, grassy habitat would have supported numerous large-bodied ungulates accessible to a population of skilled hunters with the right hunting technology. It also provided a potentially rich location for plant food collection, and along its shores a coastline that moved with the rise and fall of sea levels. The rich archaeological and paleontological records of Pleistocene sites along the modern Cape south coast of South Africa, which would have overlooked the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain during Pleistocene times of lower sea level, provides a paleoarchive of this extinct ecosystem. In this paper, we present a first order illustration of the “palaeoscape modeling” approach advocated by Marean et al. (2015). We use a resourcescape model created from modern studies of habitat productivity without the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain. This is equivalent to predominant Holocene conditions. We then run an agent-based model of the human foraging system to investigate several research questions. Our agent-based approach uses the theoretical framework of optimal foraging theory to model human foraging decisions designed to optimize the net caloric gains within a complex landscape of spatially and temporally variable resources. We find that during the high sea-levels of MIS 5e (+5-6 m asl) and the Holocene, the absence of the Plain left a relatively poor food base supporting a much smaller population relying heavily on edible plant resources from the current Cape flora. Despite high species diversity of plants with edible storage organs, and marine invertebrates, encounter rates with highly profitable resources were low. We demonstrate that without the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, human populations must have been small and low density, and exploited plant, mammal, and marine resources with relatively low caloric returns. The exposure and contraction of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain was likely the single biggest driver of behavioral change during periods of climate change through the Pleistocene and into the transition to the Holocene.

Population dynamics

Marco Janssen | Published Mon Dec 31 00:13:22 2018

Simple population dynamics model used in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

Spatial rangeland model

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jan 22 01:51:09 2019 | Last modified Sat Oct 17 02:03:28 2020

Spatial explicit model of a rangeland system, based on Australian conditions, where grass, woody shrubs and fire compete fore resources. Overgrazing can cause the system to flip from a healthy state to an unproductive shrub state. With the model one can explore the consequences of different movement rules of the livestock on the resilience of the system.

The model is discussed in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

Tiebout sorting

Marco Janssen | Published Thu Jan 24 19:37:29 2019

This Netlogo replication of Kollman, K., J.H. Miller and S.E. Page (1997) Political Institutions and Sorting in a Tiebout Model, American Economic Review 87(5): 977-992. The model consists of of citizens who can vote for partie and move to other jurisdictions if they expect their preferences are better served. Parties adjust their positions to increase their share in the elections.

This model is an application of Brantingham’s neutral model to a real landscape with real locations of potential sources. The sources are represented as their sizes during current conditions, and from marine geophysics surveys, and the agent starts at a random location in Mossel Bay Region (MBR) surrounding the Archaeological Pinnacle Point (PP) locality, Western Cape, South Africa. The agent moves at random on the landscape, picks up and discards raw materials based only upon space in toolkit and probability of discard. If the agent happens to encounter the PP locality while moving at random the agent may discard raw materials at it based on the discard probability.

Adoption of a new regulation

Marco Janssen | Published Sat Jan 26 23:58:54 2019

A group of agents share a resource and agents will become sufficiently motivated to adopt a rule to constraint their freedom if they experience resource scarcity and developed mutual trust relationships.

We present here MEGADAPT_SESMO model. A hybrid, dynamic, spatially explicit, integrated model to simulate the vulnerability of urban coupled socio-ecological systems – in our case, the vulnerability of Mexico City to socio-hydrological risk.

The model simulates the decisions of residents and a water authority to respond to socio-hydrological hazards. Residents from neighborhoods are located in a landscape with topographic complexity and two problems: water scarcity in the peripheral neighborhoods at high altitude and high risk of flooding in the lowlands, at the core of the city. The role of the water authority is to decide where investments in infrastructure should be allocated to reduce the risk to water scarcity and flooding events in the city, and these decisions are made via a multi-objective site selection procedure. This procedure accounts for the interdependencies and feedback between the urban landscape and a policy scenario that defines the importance, or priorities, that the authority places on four criteria.
Neighborhoods respond to the water authority decisions by protesting against the lack of investment and the level of exposure to water scarcity and flooding. Protests thus simulate a form of feedback between local-level outcomes (flooding and water scarcity) and higher-level decision-making. Neighborhoods at high altitude are more likely to be exposed to water scarcity and lack infrastructure, whereas neighborhoods in the lowlands tend to suffer from recurrent flooding. The frequency of flooding is also a function of spatially uniform rainfall events. Likewise, neighborhoods at the periphery of the urban landscape lack infrastructure and suffer from chronic risk of water scarcity.
The model simulates the coupling between the decision-making processes of institutional actors, socio-political processes and infrastructure-related hazards. In the documentation, we describe details of the implementation in NetLogo, the description of the procedures, scheduling, and the initial conditions of the landscape and the neighborhoods.
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1414052, CNH: The Dynamics of Multi-Scalar Adaptation in Megacities (PI Hallie Eakin).

Provided is a landscape of properties where pastoralists make decisions how much livestock they put on their property and how much to suppress fire from occuring. Rangelands can be grass dominated, or unproductive shrubb dominated. Overgrazing and fire suppresion lead to shrub dominated landscapes. What management strategies evolve, and how is this impacted by policies?
The model is discussed in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

Governing the commons

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jan 14 17:12:29 2020

Model on the use of shared renewable resources including impact of imitation via success-bias and altruistic punishment.
The model is discussed in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

Diffusion of innovations

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jan 14 17:11:41 2020

3 simple models to illustrate diffusion of innovations.
The models are discussed in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

Consumats on a network

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jan 14 17:10:23 2020

Consumer agents make choices which products to choose using the consumat approach. In this approach agents will make choices using deliberation, repetition, imitation or social comparison dependent on the level of need satisfaction and uncertainty.
The model is discussed in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

The rapid environmental changes currently underway in many dry regions of the world, and the deep uncertainty about their consequences, underscore a critical challenge for sustainability: how to maintain cooperation that ensures the provision of natural resources when the benefits of cooperating are variable, sometimes uncertain, and often limited. We present an agent-based model that simulates the economic decisions of households to engage, or not, in labor-sharing agreements under different scenarios of water supply, water variability, and socio-environmental risk. We formulate the model to investigate the consequences of environmental variability on the fate of labor-sharing agreements between farmers. The economic decisions were implemented in the framework of prospect theory.

Sugarscape with spice

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jan 14 17:09:12 2020 | Last modified Fri Sep 18 16:31:42 2020

This is a variation of the Sugarspace model of Axtell and Epstein (1996) with spice and trade of sugar and spice. The model is not an exact replication since we have a somewhat simpler landscape of sugar and spice resources included, as well as a simple reproduction rule where agents with a certain accumulated wealth derive an offspring (if a nearby empty patch is available).
The model is discussed in Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling by Marco Janssen. For more information see

Port of Mars simplified

Marco Janssen | Published Tue Jan 14 17:02:08 2020

This is a simulation model to explore possible outcomes of the Port of Mars cardgame. Port of Mars is a resource allocation game examining how people navigate conflicts between individual goals and common interests relative to shared resources. The game involves five players, each of whom must decide how much of their time and effort to invest in maintaining public infrastructure and renewing shared resources and how much to expend in pursuit of their individual goals. In the game, “Upkeep” is a number that represents the physical health of the community. This number begins at 100 and goes down by twenty-five points each round, representing resource consumption and wear and tear on infrastructure. If that number reaches zero, the community collapses and everyone dies.

title Unpublished

Marco Janssen | Unpublished


Under development.

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