Developments in computer and three dimensional (3D) digitiser technologies have made it possible to keep track of the broad range of data required to simulate an insect moving around or over the highly heterogeneous habitat of a plant’s surface. Properties of plant parts vary within a complex canopy architecture, and insect damage can induce further changes that affect an animal’s movements, development and likelihood of survival. Models of plant architectural development based on Lindenmayer systems (L-systems) serve as dynamic platforms for simulation of insect movement, providing an explicit model of the developing 3D structure of a plant as well as allowing physiological processes associated with plant growth and responses to damage to be described and simulated. Simple examples of the use of the L-system formalism to model insect movement, operating at different spatial scales—from insects foraging on an individual plant to insects flying around plants in a field—are presented. Such models can be used to explore questions about the consequences of changes in environmental architecture and configuration on host finding, exploitation and its population consequences. In effect this model is a ‘virtual ecosystem’ laboratory to address local as well as landscape-level questions pertinent to plant–insect interactions, taking plant architecture into account.
J. Hanan, P. Prusinkiewicz, M. Zalucki, D. Skirvin: Simulation of insect movement with respect to plant architecture and morphogenesis. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 35, pp. 256-269.
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