Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Architecture for Modeling Ecological Functions

A project of the Pacific Region Integrated Data Enterprise, (PRIDE)
with support from NOAA/NESDIS and Participation of USGS/PBIN)

(1)John Kineman, (2)Rozita Abdul-Williams, and (3)Derek Masaki

(1, 2) University of Colorado, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (2) Michigan State University (3) University of Hawaii and Pacific Basin Information Node

2005/2006 Demonstration Project Delineating Areas of Vulnerability to Algal Invasion in Hawaii using a Niche Model

...building a  "Biodiversity Information Modeling Architecture" and bridging together capabilities for mapping ecosystem functions and services.

The Pride Model development pilot project is a "proof of concept" demonstration to map an invasive macro-algae problem in Maui and Oahu. The key to the modeling approach is that it is generic and scalable between different kinds of problems, so one basic parametric approach can be used generically, throughout the system, building on that to add various behaviors that a given problem requires. The fundamental structure of this newly proposed architecture, is the state-function relationship. By segregating observable states, like temperature, landcover, rainfall, human occupation, soil properties, etc, from ecological functions, such as species suitabilities, water cleansing and nutrient recycling, primary production, food production, recreation, and other "services" that ecosystems provide, it is possible to provide scientists and policy advisors with the basic tools for exploring complex ecosystem relationships. This fundamental architecture will be designed to facilitate better communication within, and consequently outside, the informatics system, for sceince, management, and policy.

Project Purposes

The purposes of this project include:

  1. Develop and demonstrate a general modelling approach to identifying areas of vulnerability to marine algal invasions.
  2. Improve collaboration, sharing, and integrated use of physical and biological data to answer spatial ecological questions.
  3. Improve current methods and general informatics for ecosystem management, including monitoring, assessment, and mitigation.

The specific objectives of the FY05 and FY06 (proposed) efforts are:

  1. Develop a general modelling approach to mapping ecological functions, and demonstrate this capability in identifying areas of vulnerability to marine algal invasions in Hawaii.
  2. Design a general informatics architecture that incorporates functional models and relates them to the data layers (measured states) that control the functional distribution.
  3. Show the fundamental value of this architecture for representing and exploring ecosystem complexity, including adaptive and non-linear behaviors.

Project Deliverables

A niche model demonstration for forecasting and mapping ecological suitabilities and functions by criteria.
A prototype Hawaiian Islands regional map of model-generated locations and potential vulnerability to algal invasions.
Evaluation of needs to integrate the approach with PBIN informatics enterprise systems.
Recommendations for implementing these methods in regional or national eco-informatics systems and enterprises in the region.

Niche Modeling

In Hawaii 
[Maui model Output thumbnail]

Areas of Vulnerability to Algal Invasion in Hawaii.


In India
[thumbnail of biodiversity in India]

Possible collaboration on biodiversity mapping invasive marine species vulnerability in Pune, India.

News and Events

January 30- February 2, 2006
SYMPOSIUM: India National Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Information Infrastructure: Challenges and Potentials

National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India

"This symposium will provide an opportunity for in-depth and detailed discussion and explore various challenges in the area of biodiversity and ecosystem informatics in the Indian context. It will also initiate and encourage activities in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem informatics. It is expected to evolve into a national strategy and action plan for development of national biodiversity and ecosystem information infrastructure."

This interesting conference was a national strategy meeting for bio/eco informatics. John Kineman and Dr. Anil Kumar of the SSB Institute of Higher Learning in Puttaparthi, India, gave a keynote presentation of a paper titled: "Information as Communication." In this paper they argue that Information must communicate, both within science and between science and society. A new communication theory and architecture was proposed as a design principle for eco-informatics. One example of applying this theory and design was presented in the context of introducing niche modeling as a more integral component of eco-informatics. This was described as a method for representing ecological functions alongside complementary state variables. The combination is seen as a natural relationship that is complex and that embodies information exchanges inducing change. The structure of this relationship can be duplicated in informatics, because it is entailed as an information structure.

Kineman also was invited to Chair three sessions of the conference. The final report was compiled by Vishwas Chavan and colleagues and presented to the Indian Biodiversity Council the day following the meeting, with positive results for planning a future biodiversity informatics program.

August 9-10, 2005
PRIDE WORKSHOP: The 2nd Pacific Region
Integrated Data Enterprise (PRIDE) Workshop

East-West Center, University of Hawaii

Next year's proposal -- building a "Biodiversity Information Modeling Architecture"

PRIDE 2004 Call for Proposals

Pilot project in data integration across disciplines and institutionsd
Linking data and models for application to problem-driven science
"Data Center of the Future" - concepts (Ecosystem Informatics)


Niche Model for Algal Invasion in Hawaii- separate page

Niche Model for Vegetation Distribution in India- separate page

See Also

"Integrating Distributed Sites of Ecological Vulnerability and Delineating Areas of Interest (AOI): Pacific Region Integrated Data Enterprise, PRIDE (PDF)