Dear Virtual Prairies Explorers,
This is our fifth news letter on the ViP BOINC project, and as usual we would like to update you on our progresses.
The ViP project has reached its cruising speed and accumulated a number of results on the application side as well as the methodology side. The list of publications on the ViP web site may give you an idea.
Thanks to your donation of cpu time, we have been able to study a fairly large spectrum of population of clonal plant dynamic, from the individual plant to prairies with about a thousand of individuals. We have tested a broad variety of hypothesis on competition scenario. We have also tested the effect of grazing and climate events on the prairie dynamics
To answer a scientific question, we come up with a model and a protocol: next we run the virtual experiment with BOINC thanks to you. That sounds good but it is actually much more challenging than it appears. We have to be very modest in our scientific claims, because ecosystems are always more complex than one thinks!!!
We are concentrating all our efforts now on validation using either the control experiment of the PhD work of Anne Kristel Bittebiere (advisors Cendrine Mony and Bernard Clement . University of Rennes) or collecting rigorously data in the Long Term Ecology Research Site of Sapelo Island (collaboration with Steve Pennings - depart. of Biology of UH) Typically an experiment takes three seasons. There is not much room for speed up here..
On the methodology side, Malek Smaoui has developed several new algorithmic techniques to implement stochastic optimization with volunteer computing. This is still work in progress, but the ideas should be general enough to apply to other BOINC projects.
Several results have been published in good computer science conferences or journal of ecology, such as Ecological Modelling. Many more have been submitted and are currently under review. We also organized an international scientific meeting last June on this topic. It is interesting to notice from the publication point of view the true interdisciplinary aspect of the VIP project that is related to mathematics, computer science, ecology etc. It is a fairly laborious and rigorous effort to get that kind of work accepted by the community because it links so many disciplines. But actually this is the best way to get it right.
The ViP project is now going to enter a slow period of computing, until we come up with the new analysis of passed results and the production of new codes for updated models or scientific questions. This research goes through a cyclic: one alternate period when ideas matures, and period of intense numerical computations.
We have also to spend some significant time to look for new research funding to sponsor the students of the projects.
Among the many exciting things to come, you will be able to download soon a game, yes a fun game in Ecology, to help us reconstruct a coherent picture of our large data base of images on clonal plant experiments. So stay tuned!!!
We are thankful to David Anderson, from the Berkeley Space Lab and PI of the BOINC project, for his invaluable help.
Well that's all for now! We'd like to thank you all, and we will do our best to take advantage of these BOINC simulations. Next log should come in about few months...
Be the force of the Silicon with you!
Marc Garbey and Cendrine Mony