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Environmental Modelling



[BSc], EES, S, GED, ID, PSc

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: Numeracy. Whereas high-school mathematics and the contents of the Numeracy course provide sufficient background knowledge for this course, participants should also have a sufficient proficiency and interest in mathematics, and be prepared to amend their math skills where necessary.

Course description

Mathematical models are important tools for studying complex systems. Models provide insight in which factors have important effects, and which are less influential in determining the outcome of complex interactions. They allow you to examine the consequences of scenarios that are too risky, too costly, or simply impossible to execute in execute in reality. The process of model building itself often enlarges the insight in a complex system significantly, because it forces you to make prior knowledge and assumptions about the system explicit.

This is a course on how to develop, parameterize, analyse, and verify mathematical models for the physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in the natural environment. The emphasis is on the conceptual, mathematical basis of model building. We will use computer simulations in R to examine model results.

The work mode will vary, from working individually, in pairs, or in groups, to whole-class collaboration. You will be required to participate in discussion sessions on contents of the textbook throughout the course.

Learning objectives

After this course students should:

  • have a working knowledge of basic ecological models.

  • be able to design, adjust, and refine models.

  • be able to analyse, and derive predictions based on model results.

  • be able to critically evaluate models.

Compulsory textbook

A Practical Guide to Ecological Modelling – Using R as a Simulation Platform.
Karline Soetaert and Peter M.J. Herman 2010
ISBN: 978-90-481-7936-7 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-4020-8624-3 (e-book)

Make sure you have this book before the course starts.