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Title: Rule-based modelling of vegetation dynamics
Author: McIntosh, Brian S.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The corpus of available vegetation knowledge is characterised by its fragmented form and by the way in which relationships between different ecological quantities tend to be expressed non-quantitatively. Much of the corpus is only held informally and composed of deterministic factual or conditional statements. Despite its form, this thesis demonstrates that available ecological knowledge can be usefully employed for predictive modelling of vegetation dynamics under different conditions. The thesis concentrates on modelling Mediterranean vegetation dynamics. Using a mixture of concepts and techniques from deterministic state transition and functional attributes modelling. Qualitative Reasoning and knowledge-based systems, three ontological distinct modelling systems are developed to demonstrate the utility of available knowledge for modelling vegetation dynamics. All three systems use declarative, rule-based approaches based on first-order logic and are composed of a set of representational constructs along with a separate system for reasoning with these constructs to make predictions. A method for reasoning about change in non-quantitative model variables is developed based upon time and direction of change. This ‘temporal reasoning system’ provides a solution to the state variable problem and may offer a general way of modelling with non-quantitative knowledge. To illustrate, a different model of Mediterranean vegetation dynamics is developed and run under different conditions for each system. The capabilities and possible problems of each system in terms of ecological validity, knowledge representation and reasoning are discussed. The general utility of rule-based approaches to modelling vegetation dynamics are also discussed along with the implications of the modelling systems developed for the activities of decision-support and ecological theory development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available