Agrodiversity v.2: An educational simulation tool to address some challenges for sustaining functional agrodiversity in agro-ecosystems

E.N. Speelman, L.E. Garcia-Barrios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Functional agrodiversity can be useful and even essential for, i.e., the long-term sustainability of agriculture. However, still many aspects of this concept are not well understood. The interplay between species in diverse agro-ecosystems is based on processes as, i.e., competition, facilitation, and predator–prey relations. The net-effect of these processes on crop growth is not static and can change over time as the relative density of species change. The equilibrium state of a diverse agro-ecosystem might be far from optimum or even unproductive. This makes agrodiveristy a concept which is not easily grasped nor obtained or maintained. We believe that an agent-based model can facilitate learning on the topic of functional agrodiversity. In this paper, we present the agent-based simulation model, Agrodiversity v.2, developed in Netlogo 3.1.5. The model simulates a virtual diverse agro-ecosystem with four ecological agents. The user is challenged to explore ecological parameters and design a productive sustainable system. The model's “simplest playing level” shows that a proper balance between the co-existing species is necessary so that their ecological interactions allow the multi-species system to become self-organized and persist over time. It demonstrates the transient nature of profitable functional agrodiversity. Our analysis on the effects of using Agrodiversity v.2 on actual learning shows that the learning took place. Students increased the quality of their answers to paper-based individual questions on the topic from 29% during passive/conceptual teaching to 86% after the simulation session. On average students stated to have learnt 55% of their current knowledge through the workshop of which 76% was learnt by using the simulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-918
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • agricultural landscapes
  • natural enemies
  • conservation

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