With Environmental Decision Making, students use "connect-the-components" visual programming tools to create and study model ecosystems. Students build models of increasing complexity, which can include social and economic forces, and study parameter variations to develop an understanding of ecosystem function and productivity.
Using an iconic simulation program called Extend, ecosystem models of whole systems can easily be created. First, you diagram a model of the system showing parts and connections among them. For example, in the illustration below, components of the model, such as the sun, are placed on the computer screen. Each component is linked to the others with a mathematical relationship, such as the transfer of the sun's energy to plants. Finally, values are entered into block dialog boxes to characterize the interactions of the components, such as the amount of sunlight at a particular location or the initial number of bluegill in a pond. When the simulation is run, you can see the growth curves of the various components of the system. By making "what if..." changes in the model, the effects of various proposed decisions about the environment can then be shown.
Macintosh or Power Macintosh
Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows NT