Natural Computing

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 349–385

Competition and evolution in virtual plant communities: a new modeling approach


DOI: 10.1007/s11047-008-9089-5

Cite this article as:
Bornhofen, S. & Lattaud, C. Nat Comput (2009) 8: 349. doi:10.1007/s11047-008-9089-5


This article presents studies on plants and their communities through experiments with a multi-agent platform of generic virtual plants. Based on Artificial Life concepts, the model has been designed for long-term simulations spanning a large number of generations while emphasizing the most important morphological and physiological aspects of a single plant. The virtual plants combine a physiological transport-resistance model with a morphological model using the L-system formalism and grow in a simplified 3D artificial ecosystem. Experiments at three different scales are carried out and compared to observations on real plant species. At the individual level, single virtual plants are grown in order to examine their responses to environmental constraints. A number of emerging characteristics concerning individual plant growth can be observed. Unifying field observation, mathematical theory and computer simulation, population level experiments on intraspecific and interspecific competition for resources are related to corresponding aggregate models of population dynamics. The latter provide a more general understanding of the experiments with respect to long-term trends and equilibrium conditions. Studies at the evolutionary level aim at morphogenesis and the influence of competition on plant morphology. Among other results, it is shown how the struggle for resources induces an arms race that leads to the evolution of elongated growth in contrast to rather ample forms at ground-level when the plants evolve in isolation.


Artificial evolution Artificial life Multi-agent system Plant modeling Population dynamics 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Intelligence Artificielle de Paris 5 LIAP5Université Paris DescartesParisFrance

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