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Eli Meir (University of Washington)
System Requirements

EcoBeaker is an ecological simulation program, designed primarily for use in the classroom although it can also be useful for researchers interested in quickly constructing ecological models. EcoBeaker gives you a two-dimensional world in the computer, upon which you can place creatures whose behaviors you design. You can then watch as the creatures eat, reproduce, move around, die, and do all the other things that creatures normally do, observing patterns that you can compare against patterns seen in the real world and patterns predicted from various ecological theories. You can also make graphs of many different variables from the EcoBeaker world, use various statistical measures, and sample the populations in the world using a variety of common ecological sampling techniques.

The Species Grid is a picture of the modelingworld, showing the positions of all the different creatures in the model.

EcoBeaker models run on a two-dimensional world that is split up into little squares. Each square can contain a creature, and the creatures in a given model are split up into different types or species. The species is the basic unit in EcoBeaker models. In EcoBeaker a species refers to a collection of rules governing the behavior of creatures within that species. Thus a species in EcoBeaker could be an age class, a sex, or even something as unbiological as fire. There can be up to 10 species in a model, one of which will always be the“Empty” species, representing squares with no creature in them. The rules associated with these species make up the basis of EcoBeaker models.

Species can be added to a model, or an existing species can be modified or deleted using the Species Setup window, shown below.

A species can be either Grid Based or Individualistic. Both Grid Based and Individualistic Species have three functions associated with them:

  • Settlement Procedure. This is a procedure which is called at the beginning of each Time Step. It can add creatures of this species to the grid. An example of a settlement procedure would be Fixed settlement, where a fixed number of new creatures are put in random places on the grid each time-step.
  • Transition Matrix. This is a set of probabilities which determines whether a given creature will remain the same species or will change to a new species.
  • Action Procedure. This is a procedure which is invoked for each creature of that species on the Grid, and which defines the actions of the species - movement, reproduction, death, etc.

EcoBeaker includes many commonly used sampling techniques for sampling the distributions of creatures on the Species Grid: Mark Recapture, Percent Cover, Random Quadrat, Systematic, T-Square, and Transect. The statistics can be displayed in line graphs, bar graphs, histograms, and y-y graphs or in time-tables and stat tables.

System Requirements


  • System 7.1 or higher.
  • At least 4MB of RAM, more for complex simulations.
  • A color monitor is recommended.

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