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Complexity Theory and Spatial Simulations of Land Use/Land Cover Dynamics: The Use of “What If” Scenarios for Education, Land Management, and Decision-Making

Citation

Erlien, Christine M.; Tuttle, Julie P.; McCleary, Amy L.; Mena, Carlos F.; & Walsh, Stephen J. (2006). Complexity Theory and Spatial Simulations of Land Use/Land Cover Dynamics: The Use of “What If” Scenarios for Education, Land Management, and Decision-Making. Geocarto International, 21(4), 67-74.

Abstract

Land use/land cover (LULC) change occurs through the interactions of people, place, and environment. LULC simulation models can be used to examine pattern‐process relations through the lens of complexity theory, by incorporating nonlinear relationships such as feedbacks and analyzing resultant emergent patterns. This paper focuses on the use of LULC simulation models, particularly cellular automata (CA) and, to a lesser extent, agentbased models (ABM), as a means to engage educators and students, as well as land managers and other decisionmakers, in critical thinking about LULC dynamics. To that end, we detail the importance of systems thinking and complexity theory as background to the use of CA and ABM and briefly describe how CA/ABM work. We then provide a case study of current LULC simulation work in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon (NEA) and describe plans for education/outreach. We discuss the benefits and challenges of classroom implementation as well as possibilities for extension to land managers and other decision‐makers.

URL

https://doi.org/10.1080/10106040608542404

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2006

Journal Title

Geocarto International

Author(s)

Erlien, Christine M.
Tuttle, Julie P.
McCleary, Amy L.
Mena, Carlos F.
Walsh, Stephen J.