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Journal Articles

Taking a moment to measure networks—an approach to species conservation

Salau, K.R., J.A. Baggio, D.W. Shanafelt, M.A. Janssen, J.K. Abbott, and E.P. Fenichel

2022 Landscape Ecology 37(10): 2551–2569.



Network-theoretic tools contribute to understanding real-world system dynamics, such as species survival or spread. Network visualization helps illustrate structural heterogeneity, but details about heterogeneity are lost when summarizing networks with a single mean-style measure. Researchers have indicated that a system composed of multiple metrics may be a more useful determinant of structure, but a formal method for grouping metrics is still lacking.


Our objective is to present a tool that can account for multiple properties of network structure, which can be related to model outcomes.


We develop an approach using the statistical concept of moments and systematically test the hypothesis that this system of metrics is sufficient to explain variation in processes that take place on networks, using an ecological system as an example.


Our results indicate that the moments approach outperforms single summary metrics by adjusted-R2 and AIC model fit criteria, and accounts for a majority of the variation in process outcomes.


Our scheme is helpful for indicating when additional structural information is needed to describe system process outcomes such as survival or spread.


When patience leads to destruction: the curious case of individual time preferences and the adoption of destructive fishing gears

Javoid, A., M.A. Janssen, H. Reuter, A. Schlüter

2017 Ecological Economics 142: 91-93.


The use of destructive fishing methods is a serious problem, especially for tropical and developing countries. Due to inter temporal nature of fisheries extraction activities, standard economic theory suggests that an individual’s time preference can play a major role in determining the gear choice decision. Based on earlier theoretical work we identify two ways in which individual time preferences can impact the adoption of destructive extraction methods; (i) the conservation effect which posits that patient individuals (as indicated by relatively high discount factor) are less likely to use destructive extraction methods since they are more likely to account for the loss of future income that is accompanied by using these methods, (ii) the disinvestment effect which argues that patient individuals are more likely to use destructive extraction methods since they have greater investment capability.

Using an agent-based model we clarify the conditions under which one of these effects is more dominant than the other one. Our model suggests that the nature of destructive gear along with the level of social dilemma determines whether patient or impatient individuals (relatively lower discount factor) are more likely to adopt such a gear. Additionally agent’s beliefs regarding future resource condition and other agent’s extraction level can have a major influence in some cases.


The Collective Direction of Attention Diffusion

Wang, C.J., J. Wu, M.A. Janssen, and J. Zhang

2016 Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep34059.


We find that the flow of attention on the Web forms a directed, tree-like structure implying the time-sensitive browsing behavior of users. Using the data of a news sharing website, we construct clickstream networks in which nodes are news stories and edges represent the consecutive clicks between two stories. To identify the flow direction of clickstreams, we define the “flow distance” of nodes (Li), which measures the average number of steps a random walker takes to reach the ith node. It is observed that Li is related with the clicks (Ci) to news stories and the age (Ti) of stories. Putting these three variables together help us understand the rise and decay of news stories from a network perspective. We also find that the studied clickstream networks preserve a stable structure over time, leading to the scaling between users and clicks. The universal scaling behavior is confirmed by the 1,000 Web forums. We suggest that the tree-like, stable structure of clickstream networks reveals the time-sensitive preference of users in online browsing. To test our assumption, we discuss three models on individual browsing behavior and compare the simulation results with empirical data.


Exploration of unpredictable environments by networked groups

Sasaki, T., M.A. Janssen, Z. Shaffer and S.C. Pratt

2016 Current Zoology 62 (3): 207-214.


Information sharing is a critical task for group-living animals. The pattern of sharing can be modeled as a network whose structure can affect the decision-making performance of individual members as well as that of the group as a whole. A fully connected network, in which each member can directly transfer information to all other members, ensures rapid sharing of important information, such as a promising foraging location. However, it can also impose costs by amplifying the spread of inaccurate information (if, for example the foraging location is actually not profitable). Thus, an optimal network structure should balance effective sharing of current knowledge with opportunities to discover new information. We used a computer simulation to measure how well groups characterized by different network structures (fully connected, small world, lattice, and random) find and exploit resource peaks in a variable environment. We found that a fully connected network outperformed other structures when resource quality was predictable. When resource quality showed random variation, however, the small world network was better than the fully connected one at avoiding extremely poor outcomes. These results suggest that animal groups may benefit by adjusting their information-sharing network structures depending on the noisiness of their environment.

Keywords: agent-based model; collective cognition; conformity; small world networks; speed–accuracy; trade-off


Insights for managers from modeling species interactions across multiple scales in an idealized landscape

Schoon, M.L., J. Baggio, K. Salau and M.A. Janssen

2014 Environmental Modelling and Software 54(1):53-59.


In recent years there has been a shift in biodiversity efforts from protected areas to one of interlinked habitat patches across multiple land tenure types. Much work remains on how managers can intervene in such systems to achieve basic goals. We use an agent-based model of a metapopulation with predator–prey dynamics and density-dependent migration to examine theoretically the capacity of a manager to modify the ecosystem to achieve conservation goals. We explore management strategies aimed at maintaining one of two goals – local or global coexistence of species. To achieve their goal, the manager varies the connectivity between patches based on one of three strategies – the monitoring of predator, prey, or the vegetation carrying capacity of the patches. We find that strategies that lead to highest coexistence monitor mid-tier populations globally. Our goal is to use our model results to advance decision-making in conservation beyond protected areas, typical in today’s conservation.

Keywords: Conservation; Biodiversity; Population dynamics; Management; Adaptive management; Agent-based modeling


Varying Effects of Connectivity and Dispersal on Interacting Species Dynamics

Salau, K., M.L. Schoon, J.A. Baggio, and M.A. Janssen

2012 Ecological Modelling 242: 81-91.


Increased landscape fragmentation can have deleterious effects on terrestrial biodiversity. The use of protected areas, as islands of conservation, has limits to the extent of biodiversity conservation due to isolation and scale. As a result, there is a push to transition from solely developing protected areas to policies that also support corridor management. Given the complexities of multi-species interaction on a fragmented landscape, managers need additional tools to aid in decision-making and policy development. We develop an agent-based model (ABM) of a two-patch metapopulation with local predator–prey dynamics and variable, density-dependent species dispersal. The goal is to assess how connectivity between patches, given a variety of dispersal schema for the targeted interacting populations, promotes coexistence among predators and prey. The experiment conducted suggests that connectivity levels at both extremes, representing very little risk and high risk of species mortality, do not augment the likelihood of coexistence while intermediate levels do. Furthermore, the probability of coexistence increases and spans a wide range of connectivity levels when movement is less probabilistic and more dependent on population feedback. Knowledge of these connectivity tradeoffs is essential for assessing the value of habitat corridors, and can be further elucidated under the agent-based framework.

Keywords: Landscape fragmentation; Habitat connectivity; Predator–prey; Agent-based model; Metapopulation; Density-dependent dispersal


Landscape connectivity, node centrality and predator-prey population dynamics

Baggio, J., K. Salau, M.A. Janssen, M.L. Schoon, and O. Bodin

2011 Landscape Ecology 26(1): 33-45.


Landscapes are increasingly fragmented, and conservation programs have started to look at network approaches for maintaining populations at a larger scale. We present an agent-based model of predator–prey dynamics where the agents (i.e. the individuals of either the predator or prey population) are able to move between different patches in a landscaped network. We then analyze population level and coexistence probability given node-centrality measures that characterize specific patches. We show that both predator and prey species benefit from living in globally well-connected patches (i.e. with high closeness centrality). However, the maximum number of prey species is reached, on average, at lower closeness centrality levels than for predator species. Hence, prey species benefit from constraints imposed on species movement in fragmented landscapes since they can reproduce with a lesser risk of predation, and their need for using anti-predatory strategies decreases.

Keywords: Networks; Landscape; Predator–prey; Coexistence; Survival probabilities; ABM; IBM


Targeting and timing promotional activities: An agent-based model for the takeoff of new products

Delre, S.A., W. Jager, M.A. Janssen, T.H.A. Bijmolt

2007 Journal of Business Research 60(8): 826-835.


Many marketing efforts focus on promotional activities that support the launch of new products. Promotional strategies may play a crucial role in the early stages of the product life cycle, and determine to a large extent the diffusion of a new product. This paper proposes an agent-based model to simulate the efficacy of different promotional strategies that support the launch of a product. The article in particular concentrates on the targeting and the timing of the promotions. The results of the simulation experiments indicate that promotional activities highly affect diffusion dynamics. The findings indicate that: (1) the absence of promotional support and/or a wrong timing of the promotions may lead to a failure of product diffusion; (2) the optimal targeting strategy is to address distant, small and cohesive groups of consumers; and (3) the optimal timing of a promotion differs between durable categories (white goods, such as kitchens and laundry machines, versus brown goods, such as TVs and CDs players). These results contribute to the planning and the management of promotional strategies supporting new product launches.

Keywords: Diffusion of innovations; Agent-based model; Targeting strategies; Promotions; Takeoff of diffusions; Word-of-mouth; Social influence


Diffusion dynamics in small-world networks with heterogeneous consumers

Delre, S.A, W. Jager and M.A. Janssen

2007 Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory 13(2): 185-202.


Diffusions of new products and technologies through social networks can be formalized as spreading of infectious diseases. However, while epidemiological models describe infection in terms of transmissibility, we propose a diffusion model that explicitly includes consumer decision-making affected by social influences and word-of-mouth processes. In our agent-based model consumers’ probability of adoption depends on the external marketing effort and on the internal influence that each consumer perceives in his/her personal networks. Maintaining a given marketing effort and assuming its effect on the probability of adoption as linear, we can study how social processes affect diffusion dynamics and how the speed of the diffusion depends on the network structure and on consumer heterogeneity. First, we show that the speed of diffusion changes with the degree of randomness in the network. In markets with high social influence and in which consumers have a sufficiently large local network, the speed is low in regular networks, it increases in small-world networks and, contrarily to what epidemic models suggest, it becomes very low again in random networks. Second, we show that heterogeneity helps the diffusion. Ceteris paribus and varying the degree of heterogeneity in the population of agents simulation results show that the more heterogeneous the population, the faster the speed of the diffusion. These results can contribute to the development of marketing strategies for the launch and the dissemination of new products and technologies, especially in turbulent and fashionable markets.

Keywords: Innovation diffusion; Threshold models; Word-of-mouth; Social networks; Heterogeneous markets


Pastoralists’ Responses to Variation of Rangeland Resources in time and space

McAllister R.R.J., I.J. Gordon, M.A. Janssen and N. Abel

2006 Ecological Applications 16(2): 572-583.


We explore the response of pastoralists to rangeland resource variation in time and space, focusing on regions where high variation makes it unlikely that an economically viable herd can be maintained on a single management unit. In such regions, the need to move stock to find forage in at least some years has led to the evolution of nomadism and transhumance, and reciprocal grazing agreements among the holders of common-property rangeland. The role of such informal institutions in buffering resource variation is well documented in some Asian and African rangelands, but in societies with formally established private-property regimes, where we focus, such institutions have received little attention. We examine agistment networks, which play an important role in buffering resource variation in modern-day Australia. Agistment is a commercial arrangement between pastoralists who have less forage than they believe they require and pastoralists who believe they have more. Agistment facilitates the movement of livestock via a network based largely on trust. We are concerned exclusively with the link between the characteristics of biophysical variation and human aspects of agistment networks, and we developed a model to test the hypothesis that such a link could exist. Our model builds on game theory literature, which explains cooperation between strangers based on the ability of players to learn whom they can trust. Our game is played on a highly stylized landscape that allows us to control and isolate the degree of spatial variation and spatial covariation. We found that agistment networks are more effective where spatial variation in resource availability is high, and generally more effective when spatial covariation is low. Policy design that seeks to work with existing social networks in rangelands has potential, but this potential varies depending on localized characteristics of the biophysical variability.


Toward a Network Perspective of the Study of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems

Janssen, M.A., Ö. Bodin, J.M. Anderies, T. Elmqvist, H. Ernstson, R.R.J. McAllister, P. Olsson, and P. Ryan

2006 Ecology and Society 11(1): 15.


Formal models used to study the resilience of social-ecological systems have not explicitly included important structural characteristics of this type of system. In this paper, we propose a network perspective for social-ecological systems that enables us to better focus on the structure of interactions between identifiable components of the system. This network perspective might be useful for developing formal models and comparing case studies of social-ecological systems. Based on an analysis of the case studies in this special issue, we identify three types of social-ecological networks: (1) ecosystems that are connected by people through flows of information or materials, (2) ecosystem networks that are disconnected and fragmented by the actions of people, and (3) artificial ecological networks created by people, such as irrigation systems. Each of these three archytypal social-ecological networks faces different problems that influence its resilience as it responds to the addition or removal of connections that affect its coordination or the diffusion of system attributes such as information or disease.

Keywords: network topology; resilience; social-ecological systems; social-ecological networks


Simulating market dynamics: Interactions between consumer psychology and social networks

Janssen, M.A. and W. Jager

2003 Artificial Life 9(4): 343-356.


Markets can show different types of dynamics, from quiet markets dominated by one or a few products, to markets with continual penetration of new and reintroduced products. In a previous article we explored the dynamics of markets from a psychological perspective using a multi-agent simulation model. The main results indicated that the behavioral rules dominating the artificial consumer’s decision making determine the resulting market dynamics, such as fashions, lock-in, and unstable renewal. Results also show the importance of psychological variables like social networks, preferences, and the need for identity to explain the dynamics of markets. In this article we extend this work in two directions. First, we will focus on a more systematic investigation of the effects of different network structures. The previous article was based on Watts and Strogatz’s approach, which describes the small-world and clustering characteristics in networks. More recent research demonstrated that many large networks display a scale-free power-law distribution for node connectivity. In terms of market dynamics this may imply that a small proportion of consumers may have an exceptional influence on the consumptive behavior of others (hubs, or early adapters). We show that market dynamics is a self-organized property depending on the interaction between the agents’ decision-making process (heuristics), the product characteristics (degree of satisfaction of unit of consumption, visibility), and the structure of interactions between agents (size of network and hubs in a social network).


Fashions, habits and changing preferences: a simulation of psychological factors affecting market dynamics

Janssen, M.A. and W. Jager

2001 Journal of Economic Psychology 22(6): 745-772.


Markets can show different types of dynamics, from quiet markets dominated by one or few products, to markets with constant penetration of new and reintroduced products. This paper explores the dynamics of markets from a psychological perspective using a multi-agent simulation model. The behavioural rules of the artificial consumers, the consumats, are based on a conceptual meta-theory from psychology. The artificial consumers have to choose each period between similar products. Products remain in the market as long as they maintain a minimum level of market share, else they will be replaced by a new product. Assuming a population of consumats with different preferences, and social networks, the model simulates adoption of new products for alternative assumptions on behavioural rules. Furthermore, the consequences of changing preferences and the size of social networks are explored. Results show that the behavioural rules that dominate the artificial consumer’s decision making determine the resulting market dynamics, such as fashions, lock-in and unstable renewal. Results also show the importance of psychological variables like social networks, preferences and the need for identity to explain the dynamics of markets.

Keywords: Social networks; Changing preferences; Consumer behaviour; Lock-in



Taking a Moment to Measure Networks – A Hierarchical Approach

Salau, K., J.A. Baggio, M.A. Janssen, and J.K. Abbott, and E.P. Fenichel


Network-theoretic tools contribute to understanding real-world system dynamics, e.g., in wildlife conservation, epidemics, and power outages. Network visualization helps illustrate structural heterogeneity; however, details about heterogeneity are lost when summarizing networks with a single mean-style measure. Researchers have indicated that a hierarchical system composed of multiple metrics may be a more useful determinant of structure, but a formal method for grouping metrics is still lacking. We develop a hierarchy using the statistical concept of moments and systematically test the hypothesis that this system of metrics is sufficient to explain the variation in processes that take place on networks, using an ecological systems example. Results indicate that the moments approach outperforms single summary metrics and accounts for a majority of the variation in process outcomes. The hierarchical measurement scheme is helpful for indicating when additional structural information is needed to describe system process outcomes.


Addressing global sustainability challenges from the bottom up: The role of information feedback

Hohman, N., and M.A. Janssen
2012 CSID working paper #CSID-2012-011.


Global sustainable use of natural resources confronts our society as a collective action problem at an unprecedented scale. Past research has provided insights into the attributes of local social-ecological systems that enable effective self-governance. In this note, we discuss possible mechanisms to scale up those community-level insights to a larger scale. We do this by combining insights from social-psychology on the role of information feedback with the increasing availability of information technology. By making use of tailored social feedback to individuals in social networks we may be able to scale up the strengths of self-governance at the community level to address global sustainability challenges from the bottom up.

Keywords: Collective Action, Information, Feedback, Social Influence, Social Networks


Simulating the Motion Picture Market: why do the hits take it all?

Delre, S.A., W. Jager, M.A. Janssen and T.H.A. Bijmolt
2006 Proceedings of the First World Conference on Social Simulation, August 21-25, Kyoto,
Japan, pp.305-312.


Why are shares of the motion picture market so unequally distributed? Do the different qualities of the movies account for such an enormous difference in the market shares? Are mass media campaigns so effective to convince almost all movie visitors to see the same movies? Or are there social processes that affect the movie visitors’ decision making and direct them to visit the same movies? In this paper, we propose an agent-based model based on micro movie goers decision-making that generates the observed macro characteristics of the market. The model is calibrated using a survey conducted on moviegoers and it explains the stylized characteristics of the market in terms of social influence and coordinated consumption. Simulation results indicate that (1) the chances for successful movies to become a hit are higher in entertainment consumption markets than in art consumption markets and (2) if the marketing efforts of movie labels increase, then market shares become more unequally distributed and the differences between the two markets tend to disappear.

Keywords: motion picture market, market shares, marketing effort, social influence, coordinated consumption.


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