Simulating an Ecosystem

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för data- och informationsteknik

Abstract: Simulations are computer programs based on models, used to imitate real-life scenarios. Simulating an ecosystem is a great challenge given the various factors thatinteract and animals that coexist. The thesis work presented in this paper aims tomodel an ecosystem and study what effect the number of resources, animal characteristics, and animal behaviors have on the natural selection of the simulatedanimals. The animals evolve through natural selection, implemented using geneticalgorithms. Specifically, the project aims to investigate how the population and thetraits of the animals change, based on interactions with the environment and withother species. This is done by gathering data while running the simulation.The ecosystem, with all its components, was built using the Unity game engine. Therabbits and wolves, that constitute the food chain, were modeled to be accurate butsimplified versions of their real-life counterparts. The results show that reachingequilibrium is possible, albeit difficult if the right start values and correct worldsize are not chosen. Furthermore, the number of animals depends on the number ofplants, and the traits of the animals change over time.The conclusions to be drawn from the results are that the instances of the simulationwith the genetic algorithm implemented were able to run for longer compared to theinstances without the genetic algorithm. The results also suggest even though it isgreatly simplified, that the simulation proved to be stable for certain initial numbersof rabbits, wolves, and plants. This stability can be greatly improved in order forthe simulation to handle greater variations in resources and the number of animals.

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