Reasoning with direction and rate of change in vegetation state transition modelling

Brian S. McIntosh, Robert I. Muetzelfeldt, Colin J. Legg, Stefano Mazzoleni, Péter Csontos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Better integration in land planning and management can be supported through the use of suitable model-based tools. Vegetation state transition models have been noted as being useful in this context, providing a simple, useful means of capturing available ecological knowledge. We describe a simple 'proof of concept' rule-based system developed to contribute methodologically to management-oriented modelling of vegetated landscapes. The system is based upon a clear separation of direction from rate of change and the use of a general temporal reasoning system, a feature that facilitates modelling of situations where environmental change occurs causing an increase or decrease in rate without affecting direction of vegetation change. To ease model development and use the system represents vegetation dynamics in a way that has a close correspondence to the structure of understanding communicated by vegetation ecologists. A test model is described and run under different conditions to demonstrate the system. The results show that although the rule-based system and in particular the temporal reasoning system used operate successfully, there are a number of deficiencies in the modelling system as currently implemented. Future development possibilities are detailed along with a broader discussion regarding the needs of management-oriented modelling and the utility of state transition approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-927
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2003



  • Management-oriented modelling
  • Mediterranean vegetation
  • Modelling systems
  • Rule-based modelling
  • State transition modelling
  • Vegetation dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling

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