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James Millington, Raúl Romero-Calcerrada, John Wainwright and George Perry
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 11 (4) 4
Abstract: Humans have a long history of activity in Mediterranean Basin landscapes. Spatial heterogeneity in these landscapes hinders our understanding about the impacts of changes in human activity on ecological processes, such as wildfire. The use of spatially-explicit models that simulate processes at fine scales should aid the investigation of spatial patterns at the broader, landscape scale. Here, we present an agent-based model of agricultural land-use decision-making to examine the importance of land tenure and land use on future land cover. The model considers two 'types' of land-use decision-making agent with differing perspectives; 'commercial' agents that are perfectly economically rational, and 'traditional' agents that represent part-time or 'traditional' farmers that manage their land because of its cultural, rather than economic, value. The structure of the model is described and results are presented for various scenarios of initial landscape configuration. Land-use/cover maps produced by the model are used to examine how wildfire risk changes for each scenario. Results indicate that land tenure configuration influences trajectories of land use change. However, simulations for various initial land-use configurations and compositions converge to similar states when land-tenure structure is held constant. For the scenarios considered, mean wildfire risk increases relative to the observed landscape. Increases in wildfire risk are not spatially uniform however, varying according to the composition and configuration of land use types. These unexpected spatial variations in wildfire risk highlight the advantages of using a spatially-explicit agent-based model of land use/cover change.