an NSF supported program

Village Ecodynamics Project


The late A.D. 1200s depopulation of the Mesa Verde region of the American Southwest is one of the great mysteries of American archaeology. Deserted Cliff DwellingsMany mechanisms have been proposed to account for this rapid out-migration of regional populations. Most suggest increasingly severe resource imbalances across a densely populated landscape. Some accepted research, however, shows that potential maize production was sufficient to support the estimated populations of the time. If these populations emigrated due to resource scarcity, then scarcity of other resources must have contributed to decisions to leave. On the other hand, there are hints of important changes in sociopolitical organization just prior to the depopulation.

This famous depopulation is one of the riddles that the Village Project addresses. The project was undertaken to examine the interaction of simulated agrarian households with their natural environment taking in to account the production and consumption of various natural resources essential for everyday life. By evaluating the possibility of crises in factors such as potable water, woody fuels, and protein, this research will help determine whether resource factors were in fact critical in these decisions, or whether social factors may have largely influenced the exodus.

See our Research Plan for other problems we are addressing.

VEP Grad Students Win Training Opportunities

Please note that this content is not current. It is being maintained for historical purposes.

The Santa Fe Institute announced that WSU graduate student Stefani Crabtree will attend its 2011 Complex Systems Summer School June 8 - July 1, and WSU graduate student Kyle Bocinsky will attend its 17th Annual Graduate Workshop in Computational Social Science Modeling and Complexity June 19-July 1, 2011. Both are highly competitive. In addition Crabtree has won a position at the first São Paulo School on Ecological Networks, to be held Sept. 16-23, 2011. This school is sponsored by the Associação Brasileira de Ciência Ecológica e Conservação, jointly with the Graduate Programs in Ecology of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas and the Universidade de São Paulo. Congratulations Kyle and Stefani!

Try out the Village model yourself

Please note that this content is not current. It is being maintained for historical purposes.
A sample view of the model windows as it runs.

Several months ago, the Swarm based model was ported to the Repast library. Today we are pleased to offer a downloadable technology preview of this new model. In order to run this, you will also need to download the data files.

Place the model and the data zip file next to each other in the filesystem and then unzip the data file. This maintains the directory structure the model is expecting. Then simply run it.

In MS Windows, you should be able to simply double click on the .jar file if you have the Java runtime installed.  If this does not work, you may need to download and install the runtime.

Mac OS X and most flavors of Linux have the runtime already installed, so you can simply double click on the .jar file or run it with

java -jar RepastVillage.jar

Good luck!

Agent-based Modeling

Since the 1990s there has been a marked increase in interest in computational approaches—including simulation—by social science researchers. This appears to be driven both by a cross-disciplinary interest in the sciences of complexity and the ever-increasing computational capacity at our disposal.

In the past, due to the complexity of the phenomena involved, we have been forced to use simplistic world models. Today we are able to study a world in which most important phenomena emerge from the non-linear interaction of many agents (physical, biological, or social) in systems that are rarely at equilibrium.

This vision promotes a method—agent-based modeling—that provides a computational environment in which the behaviors of such systems can be studied.

Read more

Department of Anthropology, PO Box 644910, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4910, 509-335-3441, Contact Us