MEPS 154:1-16 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps154001

A virtual mesocosm with artificial salps for exploring the conditions of swarm development in the pelagic tunicate Salpa fusiformis

Laval P

A virtual mesocosm is a software framework simulating a controlled oceanic environment. Artificial salps and their food are introduced into the mesocosm where their development can be watched on the computer screen. The artificial salps are software entities mimicking closely the life-history and behavior of their real counterparts (the tunicate Salpa fusiformis): they swim in the artificial space, where each individual feeds on the local resources; they metabolize, accumulate reserves, and grow; their reproduction alternates between asexual and sexual generations. Plausible values are given to 21 parameters characterizing their life-cycle and metabolism. A virtual mesocosm is in fact a model, focused upon individuals and their spatial interactions. The relationships present in the conceptual model are more completely and more precisely stated in a software design than in a mathematical model. Many computer experiments are possible with the artificial salps, without the difficult problems associated with the sampling and laboratory maintenance of the real, fragile, planktonic organisms. An example is given showing the effect of different spacing between food patches.


Computer simulation · Artificial life · Conceptual model · Object-based design


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