Spatially explicit simulation models of varying degree of complexity are increasingly used in landscape and species management and conservation. The choice as to which type of model to employ in a particular situation, is however, far too often governed by logistic constraints and the personal preferences of the modeller, rather than by a critical evaluation of model performance. We present a comparison of three common spatial simulation approaches (patch-based incidence-function model (IFM), individual-based movement model (IBMM), individual-based population model including detailed behaviour and demographics (IBPM)). The IBPM was analysed in two versions (IBPM_st and IBPM_dyn). Both assumed spatial heterogeneity of the matrix, but the IBPM_dyn in addition included temporal matrix dynamics. The models were developed with a shared minimum objective, namely to predict dynamics of individuals or populations in space given a specific configuration of habitat patches. We evaluated how the choice of model influenced predictions regarding the effect of patch- and corridor configuration on dispersal probabilities and the number of successful immigrants of a simulated small mammal. Model results were analysed both at the level of the entire habitat network and at the level of individual patches.
Ecological Modelling, 2004, Vol 181, Issue 4, p. 445-459