Ecology and Evolution
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research / School of Science
Queensland University of Technology South American Scholarships and the Center for Data Science (CDS)
In general, it is not feasible to collect enough empirical data to capture the entire range of processes that define a complex system, either intrinsically or when viewing the system from a different geographical or temporal perspective. In this context, an alternative approach is to consider model transferability, which is the act of translating a model built for one environment to another less well-known situation. Model transferability and adaptability may be extremely beneficial—approaches that aid in the reuse and adaption of models, particularly for sites with limited data, would benefit from widespread model uptake. Besides the reduced effort required to develop a model, data collection can be simplified when transferring a model to a different application context. The research presented in this paper focused on a case study to identify and implement guidelines for model adaptation. Our study adapted a general Dynamic Bayesian Networks (DBN) of a seagrass ecosystem to a new location where nodes were similar, but the conditional probability tables varied. We focused on two species of seagrass (Zostera noltei and Zostera marina) located in Arcachon Bay, France. Expert knowledge was used to complement peer-reviewed literature to identify which components needed adjustment including parameterization and quantification of the model and desired outcomes. We adopted both linguistic labels and scenario-based elicitation to elicit from experts the conditional probabilities used to quantify the DBN. Following the proposed guidelines, the model structure of the general DBN was retained, but the conditional probability tables were adapted for nodes that characterized the growth dynamics in Zostera spp. population located in Arcachon Bay, as well as the seasonal variation on their reproduction. Particular attention was paid to the light variable as it is a crucial driver of growth and physiology for seagrasses. Our guidelines provide a way to adapt a general DBN to specific ecosystems to maximize model reuse and minimize re-development effort. Especially important from a transferability perspective are guidelines for ecosystems with limited data, and how simulation and prior predictive approaches can be used in these contexts.
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