Model Selection and Development

Selecting the correct modeling tool is one of the most important phases of a participatory modeling exercise and should be determined based on the goals of the participants, the availability of data, the project deadlines, and funding limitations rather than being determined by scientists' preferred modeling platform and methodology.

In terms of model development, stakeholders are very helpful in identifying whether there are processes or ecological phenomena that have been neglected in the modeling process. Stakeholders can also be called upon to verify basic assumptions about the dynamics, history, and patterns of the ecosystem. In addition, community stakeholders can often validate assumptions about typical human behavior in the system. This often anecdotal evidence may be the only source of model assumptions about human behavior in a system. When combined with technical knowledge of ecological processes such evidence may be key to identify new and more appropriate management solutions. The participatory modeling approach is based on the assumption that those who live and work in a system may be well informed about its processes and may have observed phenomena that would not be captured by scientists. This two-way flow of information is a key characteristic of successful participatory modeling.

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