Journal article

A field ecologist's adventures in the virtual world: using simulations to design data collection for complex models

Freya M Thomas, Peter A Vesk, Cindy E Hauser



Field data collection can be expensive, time consuming, and difficult; insightful research requires statistical analyses supported by sufficient data. Pilot studies and power analysis provide guidance on sampling design but can be challenging to perform, as ecologists increasingly collect multiple types of data over different scales. Despite a growing simulation literature, it remains unclear how to appropriately design data collection for many complex projects. Approaches that seek to achieve realism in decision-making contexts, such as management strategy evaluation and virtual ecologist simulations, can help. For a relatively complex analysis, we develop and demonstrate a flexible simulat..

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Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Daniel Falster for early discussions on simulation structure; we thank Natalie Briscoe for a friendly and constructive review, and two anonymous reviewers for further recommendations and improvements. We thank Rafael Schouten for current and ongoing development of simulation code to increase efficiency and generalizability. F. M. Thomas is supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award, Holsworth Wildlife Research Scholarship and a top up from Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions (CEED). P. A. Vesk is supported by CEED. C. E. Hauser was funded by the NERP Environmental Decisions Hub.