Ecological Modelling Special Edition Dedicated to USGS WARC Researcher Donald DeAngelis

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A special edition of the journal Ecological Modelling has been dedicated to Donald DeAngelis, U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist, in honor of his 70th birthday. A a prominent contributor to the journal, DeAngelis has played a decisive role in the progression of ecological and mathematical modeling, specifically related to individual-based approaches.

A special edition of the journal Ecological Modelling has been dedicated to Donald DeAngelis, U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist, in honor of his 70th birthday.

DeAngelis, a prominent contributor to the journal, has been with the USGS for over 20 years and has played a decisive role in the progression of ecological and mathematical modeling, specifically related to individual-based approaches.

“Don’s contributions to Ecological Modelling – and the field of modelling – over the last four decades are invaluable,” said Volker Grimm, a professor at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, and co-editor of the special edition. “The current state of the art wouldn’t be where it is without his work.”

DeAngelis has devoted his career towards furthering the understanding of ecological and mathematical modeling, developing effective modelling collaborations that target real-world management scenarios, advancing theory, and contributing to student and collaborator education. He has extensively published in areas including theoretical ecology with a focus on population dynamics, food web theory, forest dynamics, nutrient cycling, animal behavior and movement, and evolutionary theory. Recently, he has contributed to individual-based population models, and with Louis Gross, Professor at the University of Tennessee, he edited the first book on the subject.

“[DeAngelis’] work was critical for establishing the new approach of individual-based modelling,” said Grimm. “He developed the first individual-based models of fish populations which inspired larger research projects. Without his work and influence, we would still be 10 to 20 years behind.”

DeAngelis earned his PhD in physics in 1972, but then turned to theoretical ecology soon after, and has since published more than 250 journal articles and book chapters as well as five books. He joined the USGS in 1994, and attained USGS’ highest scientific ranking of Senior Scientist in 2015.

In 2014, DeAngelis was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the Department of the Interior in recognition of his outstanding contributions to USGS in the field of ecological modeling and environmental decision-making.

He also serves as the coordinator for USGS’ ATLSS (Across Trophic Level System Simulation) Program, developing a suite of landscape-level models for ecosystems of the Everglades to support restoration planning and impact assessment.

“Don has applied his remarkable knowledge of theoretical ecology and mathematics in the development of the ATLSS Program,” said Vic Engel, Branch Chief and Supervisory Hydrologist at USGS’ Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. “Over the past decade, ATLSS products have provided valuable scientific assistance and decision-support for the multi-billion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. His models, along with his leadership activities among the scientific community, have had a direct and tangible influence on the engineering design and the establishment of ecological goals for Everglades restoration.”

Beyond his work with USGS, DeAngelis also acts as a research professor at the University of Miami, where he instructs students in ecosystem ecology and dynamics. He also devotes time to mentoring middle school students in Miami-Dade County who participate in a six-week summer ecology research program taught by the University of Miami. The program’s purpose is to stimulate middle school students, particularly inner-city students, to pursue careers in science.

“Don’s humility made him more compatible with a ‘bottom up’ approach [in doing science],” said Grimm. “He never distinguished among those who approached him, be it struggling PhD students or the most distinguished peers in our discipline.”

The special edition of Ecological Modelling entitled “Next Generation Ecological Modelling, Concepts, and Theory: Structural Realism, Emergence, and Predictions” invited contributions discussing any model type or ecological system to recognize the spirit of DeAngelis’ work. The Special Edition includes contributions from USGS researchers who have worked alongside DeAngelis.

“Don has been an amazing leader in the field of individual-based ecological modeling for many years, and his leadership continues,” said USGS WARC Research Ecologist Ken Krauss. “It is an honor to work at the same research center as Don.”

The special edition of Ecological Modelling can be found online: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03043800/326