The Potential for the Use of Agent-Based Models in Ecotoxicology

  • Christopher J. Topping
  • Trine Dalkvist
  • Valery E. Forbes
  • Volker Grimm
  • Richard M. Sibly
Part of the Emerging Topics in Ecotoxicology book series (ETEP, volume 2)


This chapter introduces ABMs, their construction, and the pros and cons of their use. Although relatively new, agent-based models (ABMs) have great potential for use in ecotoxicological research – their primary advantage being the realistic simulations that can be constructed and particularly their explicit handling of space and time in simulations. Examples are provided of their use in ecotoxicology primarily exemplified by different implementations of the ALMaSS system. These examples presented demonstrate how multiple stressors, landscape structure, details regarding toxicology, animal behavior, and socioeconomic effects can and should be taken into account when constructing simulations for risk assessment. Like ecological systems, in ABMs the behavior at the system level is not simply the mean of the component responses, but the sum of the often nonlinear interactions between components in the system; hence this modeling approach opens the door to implementing and testing much more realistic and holistic ecotoxicological models than are currently used.


Population-level risk assessment ALMaSS Pattern-oriented modeling ODD Multiple stressors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. Topping
    • 1
  • Trine Dalkvist
    • 1
    • 2
  • Valery E. Forbes
    • 2
    • 3
  • Volker Grimm
    • 4
  • Richard M. Sibly
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity, National Environmental Research InstituteUniversity of AarhusRøndeDenmark
  2. 2.Centre for Integrated Population EcologyRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial ChangeRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Ecological ModellingHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Reading, WhiteknightsReadingUK

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