Using spatial self-organization models as a starting point, I have developed 3D visualizations of ecosystems, in collaboration with CGI experts (Benny Onrust, Dr. Rafa Bidarra, Robert Rooseboom), or myself, using the Unreal Engine.
Creating Virtual Ecosystems involves three steps. First, you have to create a physical landscape as a starting point. After that, you can use self-organization models to generate ecological patterns that create the heterogeneity that is charactestistic of many ecological systems. Finally, competition principles are used to define which individual organisms are found where.
We published a paper on this procedure in the paper:
Ecologically sound procedural generation of natural environments
Benny Onrust, Rafael Bidarra, Robert Rooseboom, Johan van de Koppel
International Journal of Computer Games Technology, Volume 2017, Number 7057141 – 2017. Link
To explain the technology, we have made a youtube movie:
We have applied the technique in two applied projects. One of the is the Waddensleutels/Mosselwad project, which studied the dynamics of mussel beds in the Wadden Sea.
A second one involves prediction of the future development of the Hedwige-Prosperpolder following de-embankment.