Modelling the dynamics of coral reef macroalgae using a Bayesian belief network approach

Renken, Henk and Mumby, Peter J. (2009) Modelling the dynamics of coral reef macroalgae using a Bayesian belief network approach. Ecological Modelling, 220 (9-10). pp. 1305-1314. ISSN 03043800

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    Macroalgae are a major benthic component of coral reefs and their dynamics influence the resilience of coral reefs to disturbance. However, the relative importance of physical and ecological processes in driving macroalgal dynamics is poorly understood. Here we develop a Bayesian belief network (BBN) model to integrate many of these processes and predict the growth of coral reef macroalgae. Bayesian belief networks use probabilistic relationships rather than deterministic rules to quantify the cause and effect assumptions. The modelwas developed using both newempirical data and quantified relationships elicited from previous studies. We demonstrate the efficacy of the BBN to predict the dynamics of a common Caribbean macroalgal genus Dictyota. Predictions of the model have an average accuracy of 55% (implying that 55% of the predicted categories of Dictyota cover were assigned to the correct class). Sensitivity analysis suggested that macroalgal dynamics were primarily driven by top–down processes of grazing rather than bottom–up nutrification. BBNs provide a useful framework for modelling complex systems, identifying gaps in our scientific understanding and communicating the complexities of the associated uncertainties in an explicit manner to stakeholders.We anticipate that accuracies will improve as new data are added to the model.

    Item Type: Peer-reviewed Journal Article
    Related URLs:
    Unique ID or DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2009.02.022
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Keywords: Bayesian belief network, Diadema antillarum, Dictyota spp., Grazing pressure, Macroalgal dynamics, Nutrients, Scaridae
    Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AH) Plants
    (C) Ecosystems > (CB) Marine > (CBA) Coral Reefs
    (Z) Other or Unspecified
    Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3C) Other Universities
    Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2010 09:40
    Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 14:26

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