Computational Modelling Group


Ecology is the study of organisms, populations and their interactions with each other and the environment. This topic includes projects on biogeography, ecosystems (the combined physical and biological components of an environment), animal behaviour and food webs.

For queries about this topic, contact Richard Edwards.

View the calendar of events relating to this topic.


A habitat suitability model for predicting coral reef distributions in the Galápagos Islands

Terence Dawson (Investigator)

As part of a wider project developing a conservation strategy for the marine environment of the Galapagos Islands, this research used multi-variate modelling techniques to develop a habitat suitability prediction model for coral reefs.

A novel approach to analysing fixed points in complex systems

James Dyke (Investigator), Iain Weaver

This work aims to contribute to our understanding of the relationship between complexity and stability. By describing an abstract coupled life-environment model, we are able to employ novel analytical, and computational techniques to shed light on the properties of such a system.

A spatially-explicit agent-based model of jaguar population dynamics

Jason Noble, Patrick Doncaster (Investigators), Angela Watkins

A single species spatially-explicit agent-based model has been developed that illustrates the role of simulation modelling, integrated with an adapted least-cost modelling approach and real-world geographical data, in exploring jaguar population dynamics.

Agent-based simulations of jaguar movements through conservation corridors

Jason Noble, Patrick Doncaster (Investigators), Angela Watkins

We present an agent-based model of jaguars (Panthera onca),
scaled for fragmented habitat in Belize where proposals already exist for creating a jaguar corridor. We use a least cost approach to simulate movement paths through alternative possible landscapes.

Associative learning in ecosystems: Network level adaptation as an emergent propery of local selection

Richard Watson, James Dyke (Investigators), Daniel Power

Ecosystems may exhibit collective adaptive properties that arise from natural selection operating on their component species. These properties include the ability of the ecosystem to return to specific configurations of species, in a manner highly analogous to mechanisms of associative learning in neural networks.

Do the adaptive dynamics of host-parasite systems catalyse or constrain sympatric speciation?

Richard Watson (Investigator), Daniel Power

Coevolutionary dynamics affect both parties evolutionary trajectories. When might these affect speciation? This project uses a simulation model to explore the issue.

EuroSat4PhenoChanges. Using MERIS for monitoring phenology in Europe.

Peter Atkinson (Investigator), Victor Rodriguez Galiano

Monitoring vegetation phenology at multiple scales in Europe from the GMES satellite sensor time-series: a special consideration to natura2000 areas

Identification of novel Crustacean Pathogen Receptor Proteins

Richard Edwards, Chris Hauton, Timothy Elliott (Investigators), Oyindamola Lawal, Lloyd Mushambadzi

We are mining EST libraries (sequence fragments of expressed genes) for novel proteins that might play a role in the immune response of crustaceans.

Impact of reciprocal feedbacks between evolution and ecology

Richard Watson, Patrick Doncaster, James Dyke (Investigators), Daniel Power

How do organism's activities affect their evolutionary trajectories? This project uses simulation techniques to evaluate the effects of this feedback.

Integrating least-cost models with agent-based simulations: example hedgehog responses to fragmented landscapes

Jason Noble, Patrick Doncaster (Investigators), Angela Watkins

This study presents a novel analysis of an agent-based model of hedgehog movements integrated with a least-cost model of hedgehog dispersal and validated in landscapes with a varying degree of habitat fragmentation. A comparison of the fitness of individual agents reveals that incorporating a simple rule into
individual agents, to better mimic movement choices by real hedgehogs, dramatically affects the relationship between individual fitness and fragmentation.

Is the decline in East African lesser flamingo population a natural concequence of soda ake dynamics?

Seth Bullock

An interdisciplinary approach using palaeoenvironmental data analysis and a modelling is being used investigate the dramatic fluctuations in conditions in the East African Rift Valley soda lakes, and how these changes may be impacting the lesser flamingo population.

Lagrangian modelling of ecosystem dynamics at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study station

Tom Anderson, Seth Bullock (Investigators), Melissa Saeland

Focus in the marine ecosystem modelling community is starting to shift towards the use of Lagrangian, agent-based models as these are believed to produce more realistic results. The basic assumptions behind these models have not been thoroughly tested, and this project aims to undertake a detailed study of Lagrangian marine ecosystem models, before creating one to investigate the dynamics at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study station (BATS).

Metagenomics: Understanding the impacts of environmental change on soil biodiversity

Richard Edwards, Gail Taylor (Investigators), Joseph Jenkins

Drought is expected to increase in prevalence by 2050. Similarly, the use of biochar (a charcoal based soil amendment) has been suggested as a method to sequester carbon and fertilize soils without need of mineral fertilizers, and its use is increasing. We are using next generation DNA sequencing technology and bioinformatics to determine bacterial genetic diversity from soil samples which have been subject to drought or biochar amendment, to further our understanding of the impacts of environmental change on microbial communities.

Modelling Macro-Nutrient Release & Fate Resulting from Sediment Resuspension in Shelf Seas

Chris Wood

This study involves adapting a previously-published model to take into account the effect resuspension events (both natural and anthropogenic) may have on nutrient dynamics at the sediment-water interface, and hence produce better estimates for the total nutrient budgets for shelf seas.

Models of Avian Flocking

Edward Butler (Investigator)

This research review project explores current state of avian flock modelling research, exploring how ideas have developed since the earliest theories dating back to the 1930s.

New Forest Cicada Project

Alexander Rogers, Geoff Merrett (Investigators), Davide Zilli, Oliver Parson

Rediscover the critically endangered New Forest cicada with crowdsourced smartphone biodiversity monitoring techniques.

Selection pressure for language and theory-of-mind in monkeys

Jason Noble (Investigator)

To what extent are the alarm calls of putty-nosed monkeys likely to be a good model for human language evolution? Simulation is used to classify evolutionary trajectories as either plausible or implausible, and to put lower bounds on the cognitive complexity required to perform particular behaviours.

Sensitivity of the critical depth to the choice of particle movement rules in Lagrangian models and the consequences for the predicted timing of the spring bloom

Tom Anderson (Investigator), Melissa Saeland

Individual-based (Lagrangian) models lend themselves to the study of the controls of the spring bloom in the ocean, due to their ability to represent both the turbulence and the phytoplankton motion. Here, we use a Lagrangian phytoplankton model to test some of the most prevalent hypotheses (e.g. critical depth and critical turbulence).

Simulation modelling of habitat permeability for mammalian wildlife

Patrick Doncaster, Jason Noble (Investigators), Angela Watkins

Using and integrating least-cost models and agent-based simulations to explore the way in which mammals interact with, and hence move, through fragmented landscapes.

The importance of timescales for the emergence of environmental self-regulation

Iain Weaver, James Dyke (Investigators)

Models which explore the possibilities of emergent self-regulation in the Earth system often assume the timescales associated with changes in various sub-systems to be predetermined. We analyse a classic model of environmental self-regulation, Daisyworld, and interpret the original equations for model temperature, changes in insolation, and self-organisation of the biota as an important separation of timescales.

The Origins of Communication Revisited

Jason Noble (Investigator), Jordi Arranz

Quinn (2001) sought to demonstrate that communication be- tween simulated agents could be evolved without pre-defined communication channels. Quinn’s work was exciting because it showed the potential for ALife models to look at the real origin of communication; however, the work has never been replicated. In order to test the generality of Quinn’s result we use a similar task but a completely different agent architecture. We find that qualitatively similar behaviours emerge, but it is not clear whether they are genuinely communicative. We extend Quinn’s work by adding perceptual noise and internal state to the agents in order to promote ritualization of the nascent signal. Results were inconclusive; philosophical implications are discussed.

The Role of the Biota in the Carpenter Model on Lake Eutrophication

James Dyke (Investigator), Alexandra Diem

The Carpenter model is a useful and simple model to predict the eutrophication of shallow lakes via phosphorus input. This project aimed at resolving the function of the biota, which play a major role in the phosphorus dynamics, but are so far only implicitly modelled, and extending the model to explicitly represent them.

Tipping points in Complex Coupled Life-Environment Systems

Iain Weaver, James Dyke (Investigators)

System-level homeostasis has been demonstrated in a number of conceptual, artificial life, models which share the advantage of a thorough and transparent analysis. We reintroduce a general model for a coupled life-environment model, concentrating on a minimal set of assumptions, and explore the consequences of interaction between simple life elements and their shared, multidimensional environment.

Validation of a spatial-temporal soil water movement and plant water uptake model

Tiina Roose, Sevil Payvandi (Investigators), James Heppell

We develop a model that estimates the water saturation level within the soil at different depths, and the uptake of water by the root system. Data from Smethurst et al (2012) is used to validate our model and obtain a fully calibrated system for plant water uptake. When compared quantitatively to other models such as CROPWAT, our model achieves a better fit to the experimental data because of the simpler, first, second and third order terms present in the boundary condition, as opposed to complicated non-linear functions.

µ-VIS Computed Tomography Centre

Ian Sinclair, Richard Boardman, Dmitry Grinev, Philipp Thurner, Simon Cox, Jeremy Frey, Mark Spearing, Kenji Takeda (Investigators)

A dedicated centre for computed tomography (CT) at Southampton, providing complete support for 3D imaging science, serving Engineering, Biomedical, Environmental and Archaeological Sciences. The centre encompasses five complementary scanning systems supporting resolutions down to 200nm and imaging volumes in excess of one metre: from a matchstick to a tree trunk, from an ant's wing to a gas turbine blade.


Peter Atkinson
Professor, Geography (FSHS)
Seth Bullock
Professor, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Simon Cox
Professor, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Terence Dawson
Professor, Geography (FSHS)
Timothy Elliott
Professor, Medicine (FM)
Jeremy Frey
Professor, Chemistry (FNES)
Ian Sinclair
Professor, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Mark Spearing
Professor, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Gail Taylor
Professor, Biological Sciences (FNES)
Patrick Doncaster
Reader, Biological Sciences (FNES)
Tiina Roose
Reader, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Fraser Sturt
Senior Lecturer, Humanities (FH)
Richard Watson
Senior Lecturer, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
James Dyke
Lecturer, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Geoff Merrett
Lecturer, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Alexander Rogers
Lecturer, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Philipp Thurner
Lecturer, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Tom Anderson
Principal Research Fellow, National Oceanography Centre (FNES)
Richard Boardman
Senior Research Fellow, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Chris Hauton
Senior Research Fellow, Ocean & Earth Science (FNES)
Dmitry Grinev
Research Fellow, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Jason Noble
Research Fellow, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Sevil Payvandi
Research Fellow, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Victor Rodriguez Galiano
Research Fellow, Geography (FSHS)
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Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Joseph Abram
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Jordi Arranz
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Alice Ball
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Lewys Brace
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Edward Butler
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Alexandra Diem
Postgraduate Research Student, Engineering Sciences (FEE)
Caroline Duignan
Postgraduate Research Student, Biological Sciences (FNES)
Graham Elliott
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Tom Hebbron
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
James Heppell
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Guy Jacobs
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Joseph Jenkins
Postgraduate Research Student, Biological Sciences (FNES)
Sarah Neenan
Postgraduate Research Student, Institute of Sound & Vibration Research (FEE)
Daniel Power
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Melissa Saeland
Postgraduate Research Student, National Oceanography Centre (FNES)
Nathan Smith
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Nick Synes
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Angela Watkins
Postgraduate Research Student, Biological Sciences (FNES)
Iain Weaver
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Chris Wood
Postgraduate Research Student, Ocean & Earth Science (FNES)
Davide Zilli
Postgraduate Research Student, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Elena Vataga
Technical Staff, iSolutions
Petrina Butler
Administrative Staff, Research and Innovation Services
Ella Marley-Zagar
Enterprise staff, Medicine (FM)
Richard Edwards
Alumnus, University of New South Wales, Australia
Oyindamola Lawal
Alumnus, former UG, Biological Sciences
Gunnar Mallon
Alumnus, Geography (FSHS)
Lloyd Mushambadzi
Alumnus, former UG, Biological Sciences
Oliver Parson
Alumnus, Electronics and Computer Science (FPAS)
Joe Scutt Phillips
Alumnus, Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences
Kenji Takeda
Alumnus, Engineering Sciences (FEE)