Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Brian Beckage

Summer School

Class of 2007


I am an ecologist in the Department of Plant Biology at the Unversity of Vemont. I am broadly interested in the dynamics of forests including tree demography, maintenance of species richness, and population dynamics. I emphasize the use of quantitative approaches to investigate the mechanisms structuring forested systems, including statistical models, simple process models, and more complex, individual-based, computer simulation models.

Project: Cellular Automaton Models of Savanna Vegetation

We investigate the range of savanna vegetation patterns that can be achieved using cellular automata models. Savanna communities contain overstory trees within a grassland matrix, and the savanna state is bounded by closed forest at one extreme and by open grassland at the other. We use two-dimensional cellular automata that incorporate intrinsic processes of dispersal, competition, and facilitation as well as extrinsic disturbances such as fire and wind storms. We enumerate the range of potential patterns that these models produce. Finally, we compare data from savannas in the southeastern United States to patterns produced from two contrasting models of vegetative dynamics: one that relies on intrinsic processes to explain vegetation patterns with a second that relies on extrinsic disturbance.

Project-Related Demonstrations

Cellular Automaton Model of Pine Savanna Dynamics in Response to Fire and Hurricanes

View demonstration of Wolfram Demonstrations Project

Favorite Outer Totalistic Three-Color Rule

Rule chosen: 8123959

I choose rule number 8123959 for my 3-state, outer totalistic CA. It appears to exhibit complex behavior.