The simulation and visualization of complex human-environment interactions

Randy Gimblett, Terry Daniel, Susan Cherry, Michael J. Meitner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper is to describe ongoing research work into the development of a simulation system that integrates statistical analysis, simulation and visualization with computer modeling for analyzing the complex human-environment interactions in dynamic settings. The simulation system allows individuals to explore many facets of human - environment interactions and resulting impacts and compare these results to field-tested methods of actual conditions. More specifically, the research explores procedures for representing the human decision-making process, behavior patterns and associated impacts within a dynamic environment. This tool provides opportunities to (1) develop methods to extract from human behavior and physical systems data, rules which define how individuals communicate, and interact with each other and their environment; (2) develop automated techniques for statistically comparing actual human/environment interactions and associated impacts with simulated outcomes; and (3) the use of visualization methods for evaluating simulation outcomes against actual human-environment interactions. This research builds on data collected on human use, associated resource impacts and monitoring of environmental conditions along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. Both ecological (beach morphology, river flow rates) and social (human and recreation use and impact) data have all been collected on the Colorado River ecosystem. This data will be used to test, evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of simulation and visualization techniques in solving complex problems in a dynamic, sensitive ecosystem. The Grand Canyon River Trip Simulation system is currently being tested to confirm the veracity of river trip projections provided by the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - May 25 2001


  • Human/landscape interactions
  • Simulation modeling
  • Visualization
  • Wilderness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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