A group paper entitled “Discrete and continuous time simulations of spatial ecological processes predict different final population sizes and interspecific competition outcomes“, authored by Rebecca Mancy (IDI), Patrick Prosser (FATA, University of Glasgow) and Simon Rogers (IDI) is now in press with Ecological Modelling.
The paper describes a set of computational experiments comparing ecological outcomes between a spatial version of the continuous time Gillespie algorithm and four discrete time cellular automaton algorithms. The simulations show that the decision about whether to model in discrete or continuous time matters for both dynamics and steady state outcomes. When simulating competition between two species, decisions about how to model time can even lead to differences in which species dominates. The work thus highlights the importance of modelling time in a way that reflects the dynamics of the system that is being modelled.