My research is focused on understanding the importance of spatial and temporal environmental variability on communities and populations. The key question I aim to address is how the anthropogenic impacts, such as disturbances of individual animals or changed landscape heterogeneity associated with climate changes, influence the persistence of species. The harbour porpoise is an example of a species that is influenced by anthropogenic disturbances, and much of my research has focused on how the Danish porpoise populations are influenced by noise from offshore constructions. I use a wide range of modelling tools to assess the relative importance of different sources of environmental variation, including individual-based/agent based models, spatial statistics, and classical population models. This involves development of computer programs in R and NetLogo. In addition to my own research I currently supervise three PhD students and participate in the management of Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University.
Volker Grimm currently works at the Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung. Volker does research in ecology and biodiversity research.
How to model it: Ecological models, in particular simulation models, often seem to be formulated ad hoc and only poorly analysed. I am therefore interested in strategies and methods for making ecological modelling more coherent and efficient. The ultimate aim is to develop preditive models that provide mechanstic understanding of ecological systems and that are transparent and structurally realistic enough to support environmental decision making.
Pattern-oriented modelling: This is a general strategy of using multiple patterns observed in real systems as multiple criteria for chosing model structure, selecting among alternative submodels, and inversely determining entire sets of unknown model parameters.
Individual-based and agent-based modelling: For many, if not most, ecological questions individual-level aspects can be decisive for explaining system-level behavior. IBM/ABMs allow to represent individual heterogeneity, local interactions, and/or adaptive behaviour
Ecological theory and concepts: I am particularly interested in exploring stability properties like resilience and persistence.
Modelling for ecological applications: Pattern-oriented modelling allows to develop structurally realistic models, which can be used to support decision making and the management of biodiversity and natural resources. Currently, I am involved in the EU project CREAM, where a suite of population models is developed for pesticide risk assessment.
Standards for model communication and formulation: In 2006, we published a general protocol for describing individual- and agent-based models, called the ODD protocol (Overview, Design concepts, details). ODD turned out to be more useful (and needed) than we expected.