Agent Based Modelling for spatial systems
disaster resilience, flooding, ecosystem services, coupled human natural systems, land use change, hydrology, remote sensing, complexity science
My broad research interests are in human-environmental interactions and land-use change. Specifically, I am interested in how people make land-use decisions, how those decisions modify the functioning of natural systems, and how those modifications feedback on human well-being, livelihoods, and subsequent land-use decisions. All of my research begins with a complex systems background with the aim of understanding the dynamics of human-environment interactions and their consequences for environmental and economic sustainability. Agent-based modeling is my primary tool of choice to understand human-environment interactions, but I also frequently use other land change modeling approaches (e.g., cellular automata, system dynamics, econometrics), spatial statistics, and GIS. I also have expertise in synthesis methods (e.g., meta-analysis) for bringing together leveraging disparate forms of social and environmental data to understand how specific cases (i.e., local) of land-use change contribute to and/or differ from broader-scale (i.e. regional or global) patterns of human-environment interactions and land change outcomes.
Development of spatial agent-based models to sustainability science and ecosystem service assessment, integration of agent-based model with biophysical process based model, improvement of theory of GIScience and land use change science, development of spatial analytical approach (all varieties of spatial regression), spatial data modeling including data mining, linking processes such as climate change, market, and policy to study patterns.
My general research interest is on modeling of complex natural and human systems systems. Specifically, I am interested in modeling agricultural production systems, that blends the complexity, multiplicity of scales and feedbacks of biophysical interactions in natural ecosystems with the additional intricacies of human decision-making. During last years I have coordinated the development and evaluation of an agent-based of agricultural production systems in the Argentinean Pampas.
Dr. Dawn Parker is a professor at the University of Waterloo in the School of Planning. Her research focuses on the development of integrated socio-economic and biophysical models of land-use change. Dr. Parker works with agent-based modeling, complexity theory, geographic information systems, and environmental and resource economics. Her current ongoing projects include Waterloo Area Regional Model (WARM) Urban intensification vs. suburban flight, a SSHRC funded development grant that explores the causal relationships between light rail transit and core-area intensification, and the Digging into Data MIRACLE (Mining relationships among variables in large datasets from complex systems) project.
I have developed several agent-based and cellular automata applications combining agent-based modelling, geographical information systems and visualisation to understand the complex mechanisms of decision making in land use change and environmental stewardship in order to analyse:
• the role of pastoral agriculture in regional development,
• the tradeoffs between land use intensification and water quality,
• the adoption of land-based climate change mitigation practices, and
• the incorporation of cultural values into spatial futures or scenario modelling.
My research focuses on building a systemic understanding of coupled human-natural systems. In particular, I am interested in understanding how patterns of land-use and land-cover change emerge from human alterations of natural processes and the resulting feedbacks. Study systems of interest include those undergoing agricultural to urban conversion, typically known as urban sprawl, and those in which protective measures, such as wildfire suppression or flood/storm impact controls, can lead to long-term instability.
Dynamic agent- and process-based simulation models are my primary tools for studying human and natural systems, respectively. My past work includes the creation of dynamic, process-based simulation models of the wildland fires along the urban-wildland interface (UWI), and artificial dune construction to protect coastal development along a barrier island coastline. My current research involves the testing, refinement, extension of an economic agent-based model of coupled housing and land markets (CHALMS), and a new project developing a generalized agent-based model of land-use change to explore local human-environmental interactions globally.
I am a spatial (GIS) agent-based modeler i.e. modeler that simulates the impact of various individual decisions on the environment. My work is mainly methodological i.e. I develop tools that make agent-based modeling (ABM) easier to do. I especially focus on developing tools that allow for evaluating various uncertainties in ABM. One of these uncertainties are the ways of quantifying agent decisions (i.e. the algorithmic representation of agent decision rules) for example to address the question of “How do the agents decide whether to grow crops or rather put land to fallow?”. One of the methods I developed focuses on representing residential developers’ risk perception for example to answer the question: “to what extent is the developer risk-taking and would be willing to build new houses targeted at high-income families (small market but big return on investment)?”. Other ABM uncertainties that I evaluate are various spatial inputs (e.g. different representations of soil erosion, different maps of environmental benefits from land conservation) and various demographics (i.e. are retired farmers more willing to put land to conservation?). The tools I develop are mostly used in (spatial) sensitivity analysis of ABM (quantitative, qualitative, and visual).