The SimSAGS Modelling Software
The SimSAGS modelling software is Windows-based. Each window is designed to facilitate your testing your data and importing it into your model, running your simulations and viewing and collecting your model output.
Main Control Panel
The SimSAGS hub and heart of your model. All the main functions of the application are called and controlled from here. The other windows just serve this control panel with portals for data input and output, but the Main Control Panel allows you to manage your projects, set your preferences and run your model. Specific parameters are accessed via the Parameter View and GIS inputs are identified in the GIS Control.
The rest of this list is organized in the order that you encounter the menu commands to open these windows from the Main Control Panel menu.
A note on defunct controls: defunct controls are included in this guide to provide continuity for users of previous versions of the modelling software. The guide says when a control has become defunct, and gives the control that has superceded it.
Parameterize your model here. Set values for everything from animal number to Zimbabwean atmospheric pressure. There are plenty of security features to make sure that you don't accidently overwrite your data, plus an easy to navigate data tree. If that's not enough then check out the quick access history and search facilities. Need to find out more about a particular parameter? Check out the Parameters section in this guide.
Spatial data is cool and looks pretty too! This is the GIS Control Panel. Import your GIS data into your model, tell it how to resample the data and even rescale it. Check that you're happy with every aspect of how the model is going to intepret your spatial data. Plenty of security features here too to make sure that your data is valid plus a method to translate your binary data into ascii grids for faster import times into the model.
The model environment is very adaptable to your tastes so you can set your preferences for everything from showing the startup splash screen to the prompts to save your project changes when you exit. Other file handling options include automatic loading of your most recently used project and deleting cached output files in your simulation directory, but take care not delete your valuable model results. Switch your GIS inputs on or off, and also set the frequency for plotting your graphs and grids. Finally, request the model to email you with it's results when it's finished the simulation. Cool!
It may appear that there are a lot of input parameters for your model, but a) there isn't really - there is quite a limited set of core parameters and a lot of parameters for 'tweaking', and b) the model does a lot. The Parameter View window makes navigating through all the parameters easy. Even so, here's a search facility to hopefully speed things up a bit.
The module inventory is a quick way to see what types of plants and animals you have in your model in addition to the default abiotic modules. The "Add New ..." buttons are quick ways to introduce new plants and animals into your model.
Adding a plant type, typically another species, could not be easier. Just select the type you want and press OK. The new entry will be automatically inserted into the parameter list with a set of default parameters for the generic type that you can modify to make the new plant type different if there are already other types in your model.
Adding an animal type, typically another species, could not be easier. Just select the type you want and press OK. The new entry will be automatically inserted into the parameter list with a set of default parameters based on animal mass that you can modify to make the new animal type different if there are already other types in your model.
Name your model site here. This isn't the project file name, but the internal name that you want to refer to your model by, so it could be a more detailed reference to your site. This is also where you can specify the area of your model site, for either the whole grid or for just the masked off area defined by your Site Area Mask GIS layer. Choose your units and the model will convert the value into hectares.
There is a set of default topographic templates that you can use if you lack a Landscape Topography GIS layer, or if you need to check your data against a more controlled landscape form.
Site Area Mask
The model works within a square or rectangular grid, but that's not very realistic is it? So, you can define the exact shape of your site using a mask to include cells (cell mask value=1) or exclude cells (cell mask value=0). This deals with any inconsistancies from having partial data for cells outside the site area, and also makes the model run faster as it omits the excluded cells from the simulation process. Any combinations of cells are valid, i.e., it doesn't need to be a solid shape, instead of which you could have a discontinuous shape with 'islands'. The mask application level dictates which processes are regulated by the mask.
Define the location of drinking water for each of your animal populations / herds. Set the drinking dependency in the other animal parameters in the Parameters View window and load the GIS data into the Water Locator. Modify this distribution and save the resulting file as your new GIS input. The Water Locator will work with you to make sure that your water points are valid according to your site and your area mask.
Landscape Surface Plot
One of the many ways that you can check your data. First thing to do is take a look at it. Specify your Landscape Topography in the GIS Control then make sure it looks right here.
Every variable in the model is available for your output. Use this User-defined Output Selector to request your variables in your chosen sequence. Also get summary statistics summed over days, months and years.
Before your simulations, book graphs and grids to automatically appear when the simulation starts by using this Graphics Control. You also have option for the graphs and grids to appear automatically tiled. Alternatively, open new graphs and grids on-the-fly during simulations using the Graphics menu on the Main Control Panel window. You could do this to find out which graphical outputs you need and then program them into this Graphics Control for automation.
Monitor your simulation with these Animal Population tables. Make on-the-fly comparisons and keep tabs on intake and reproduction. Plenty of ways to extract your data, like ascii file dumps and graphs and grids.
The graphs here are a very powerful way to investigate complex relations within your system. Basically, plot anything against anything and watch the results update in real time. Before your simulations, book graphs to automatically appear when the simulation starts by using the Graphics Control or open new graphs on-the-fly during simulations using the Graphics menu on the Main Control Panel window.
An amazing range of spatial data inputs and outputs are available for display as grids. This is a bit memory-hungry so perhaps limit your grids for your longer simulations once you have checked your data. Otherwise, enjoy the spatial patterns as they emerge before your eyes. Before your simulations, book grids to automatically appear when the simulation starts by using the Graphics Control or open new grids on-the-fly during simulations using the Graphics menu on the Main Control Panel window.
Monitor your simulation's progress, graded against it's own "best time", with this useful utility to monitor simulation timings, both elapsed time and projections for different stages of completion.
A great utility to parse your ascii grid outputs as both columns and flat grids. Animate the file sequences to recreate your simulation then generate another grid of the average cell values.