Design of an agent-based model to examine population-environment interactions in Nang Rong District, Thailand

Stephen J. Walsh, George P. Malanson, Barbara Entwisle, Ronald R. Rindfuss, Peter J. Mucha, Benjamin W. Heumann, Philip M. McDaniel, Brian G. Frizzelle, Ashton M. Verdery, Nathalie E. Williams, Xiaozheng Yao, Deng Ding

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39 Scopus citations


The design of an agent-based model (ABM) is described that integrates Social and Land Use Modules to examine population-environment interactions in a former agricultural frontier in Northeastern Thailand. The ABM is used to assess household income and wealth derived from agricultural production of lowland, rain-fed paddy rice and upland field crops in Nang Rong District as well as remittances returned to the household from family migrants who are engaged in off-farm employment in urban destinations. The ABM is supported by a longitudinal social survey of nearly 10,000 households, a deep satellite image time-series of land use change trajectories, multi-thematic social and ecological data organized within a GIS, and a suite of software modules that integrate data derived from an agricultural cropping system model (DSSAT - Decision Support for Agrotechnology Transfer) and a land suitability model (MAXENT - Maximum Entropy), in addition to multi-dimensional demographic survey data of individuals and households.The primary modules of the ABM are the Initialization Module, Migration Module, Assets Module, Land Suitability Module, Crop Yield Module, Fertilizer Module, and the Land Use Change Decision Module. The architecture of the ABM is described relative to module function and connectivity through uni-directional or bi-directional links. In general, the Social Modules simulate changes in human population and social networks, as well as changes in population migration and household assets, whereas the Land Use Modules simulate changes in land use types, land suitability, and crop yields. We emphasize the description of the Land Use Modules - the algorithms and interactions between the modules are described relative to the project goals of assessing household income and wealth relative to shifts in land use patterns, household demographics, population migration, social networks, and agricultural activities that collectively occur within a marginalized environment that is subjected to a suite of endogenous and exogenous dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-198
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - May 2013


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