Incorporating Habitats in Conceptual Models and Agent-Based Simulations: Expanding the Virtual Ecological Research Assistant (VERA)

The Design & Intelligence Laboratory at Georgia Tech is expanding the capability of its on-demand agent-based simulation generator to enable users to divide components into separate habitats. The Virtual Ecological Research Assistant (VERA) currently provides a concept map creator to designate biotic organisms and abiotic factors with their relevant relationships which then feed parameters into a compiler that generates server-side NetLogo code that is runtime compiled and executed and then outputs to the end-user for a line graph displaying the population cycles of the organisms involved. The software enables easy access to generate multiple simulations by changing parameters and settings to meet user-chosen goals such as more correctly emulating realistic natural environments or testing potential solutions to a problem. In reality, organisms and abiotic factors are often divided into separate habitats by a variety of factors such as a wall or by their very nature such as an ocean being separate from a landmass. With the additional feature of habitats to the VERA project, we can enable experiments that will show the viability of this approach to create more accurate models.