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  • 2018davismsc

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Spatial energetics: a thermodynamically-consistent methodology for modelling resource acquisition, distribution, and end-use networks in nature and society

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

  • Natalie Davis
Publication date2018
Number of pages130
QualificationMasters by Research
Awarding Institution
  • Jarvis, Andrew James, Supervisor
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Resource acquisition, distribution, and end-use (RADE) networks are ubiquitous in natural and human-engineered systems, connecting spatially-distributed points of supply and demand, to provide energy and material resources required by these systems for growth and maintenance. A clear understanding of the dynamics of these networks is crucial to protect those supported and impacted by them, but past modelling efforts are limited in their explicit consideration of spatial size and topology, which are necessary to the thermodynamically-realistic representation of the energetics of these networks. This thesis attempts to address these limitations by developing a spatially-explicit modelling framework for generalised energetic resource flows, as occurring in ecological and coupled socio-ecological systems. The methodology utilises equations from electrical engineering to operationalise the first and second laws of thermodynamics in flow calculations, and places these within an optimisation algorithm to replicate the selective pressure to maximise resource transfer and consumption and minimise energetic transport costs. The framework is applied to the nectar collection networks of A. mellifera as a proof-of-concept. The promising performance of the methodology in calculating the energetics of these networks in a flow-conserving manner, replicating attributes of foraging networks, and generating network structures consistent with those of known RADE networks, demonstrate the validity of the methodology, and suggests several potential avenues for future refinement and application.