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USGS Cohosts a Swarm Modeling Workshop at the University of Florida

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Interdisciplinary research related to the adaptive management of complex systems is a growing concern for scientists, as evidenced by recent initiatives in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation, and other research institutions. Physical and social scientists who work together often must resolve issues of language, standards, and research practices as they investigate complex systems.

Agent-based modeling is a computerized modeling method that gives these researchers a common tool to simulate the dynamic behavior of social, ecological, and evolutionary systems. Agent-based modeling appeals not only to researchers but also to planners, managers, and decisionmakers as they seek ways to simulate alternative futures derived from model parameters that they control. "Swarm" is an example of such an agent-based modeling program. It was developed initially by the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit research and education center, and is currently supported by the Swarm Development Group, a group of volunteer users and core developers who help maintain and develop the experimental software. The software and more information about it are available to the general public at the SwarmWiki Web site.

On May 20-21, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) group of the Gainesville USGS offices cohosted a workshop at the University of Florida (UF) on the basics of Swarm modeling. Partners in organizing the workshop included the Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI) and the UF Department of Geography. The workshop was led by Paul Box, an alumnus of the UF Department of Geography (now at Utah State University's Department of Geography and Earth Resources), who taught the workshop free of charge as "a way of giving back" to the department. Box has been an avid developer of Swarm and has specialized in using Swarm coupled with GIS to simulate complex biologic processes in the landscape.

After an introduction to agent-based simulation, Box demonstrated some of the models he has developed, including those for fire fuels and spreading of invasive species. The rest of the workshop was devoted to hands-on training of the 21 participants in the Swarm software itself. Participants included several graduate students and faculty members from various UF departments and disciplines. The workshop was also open to and included USGS personnel.

Ann Foster, head of the GIS group in the USGS Gainesville East office, and Alisa Coffin and Kristy Capobianco, contract employees at the USGS and graduate students in the UF Department of Geography, were instrumental in organizing the workshop. They also coordinated with the staff of LUECI and the UF Department of Geography to produce the workshop CD-ROM, which each participant received. For more information about this event, please contact Alisa Coffin at 352-372-2571, ext. 27.

Related Web Sites
agent-based modelling resource
UF Department of Geography
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

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in this issue: Fieldwork
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Marianas Submarine Hydrothermal Systems

Phosphorus Plume Study

Sea-Otter Numbers at Record High

Research West-Central Florida Project Concludes

Outreach South Florida Congressional Staff Tour

Florida Oceans Day

USF Hydrogeology Field Camp

ASLO Keynote Address

Oceanography Camp for Girls

Water Conservation Festival

Meetings Basics of the Basin Research Symposium

Swarm Modeling Workshop

Awards USGS Recognized for ArcIMS Data

Staff & Center News Halley Interviewed for Local Television

Publications July Publications List

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