Though initial data on planktonic periods suggested that most reserves might need to be hundreds or thousands of kilometers in diameter, the NCEAS analyses may now explain why even many tiny no-take zones seem to build large fish stocks: Their plankton don't wander far.
The NCEAS scientists' computer modeling suggests that networks of irregularly sized and spaced reserves could sustain a wide variety of species, including animals that begin life as long-distance drifters.
Due to the massive volume of landscape data and the novel application of algorithms from circuit theory, NCEAS is working to speed up their code using state of the art sparse linear solvers, graph computations, vectorization and parallelization of their code with Interactive Supercomputing Inc.
It turns out that circuit theory shares a surprising number of properties with ecological theory describing animal movements and connectivity," said Brad McRae, the NCEAS project leader.
In applying their software to these problems, NCEAS scientists have modeled mountain lion movements in Southern California to identify important connective habitats and corridors.
A key step of the NCEAS simulations is a computation on a large graph (or network) that represents the connectivity of the landscape.