Cellular Automata in Ecological Modelling

  • Broder BrecklingEmail author
  • Guy Pe’er
  • Yiannis G. Matsinos


Cellular Automata (CA) are models that generate large-scale pattern from small-scale local processes. CA deal with spatially extended dynamics using a grid structure. Successive states of cells, which are arranged on a grid, are calculated according to a set of rules. State transitions depend on the state of the single cells and the state of the cells in the local neighbourhood. Cellular Automata are applied as a modelling approach in many scientific disciplines and are used in ecology as one of the most popular model types to study spatially extended dynamics. The chapter starts with a brief historical overview about CA. It describes how CA function, and for which types of problems they can be employed. We present simple theoretical examples, followed by a more detailed case study from plant competition and grassland community dynamics. As an outlook, we discuss major fields of application with a special focus on the ecological context. Finally, we provide a brief overview and recommendations on the use of some of the software specialized in the field of CA modelling.


Cellular Automaton Cellular Automaton Cellular Automaton Model Cellular Automaton Model Focal Cell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Broder Breckling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guy Pe’er
  • Yiannis G. Matsinos
  1. 1.General and Theoretical EcologyUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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