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How would I simulate this in Matlab?

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Gwen Ovalle
Gwen Ovalle on 29 Nov 2020
Commented: Walter Roberson on 29 Nov 2020
Hello there everyone!
For my college class we are using Matlab and for our final project we must create a question and solve it using Matlab. The question I am trying to answer is "How long would it take for plants to overgrow a city?", but I am very unsure of how to even beging to go about this. This is a beginner level class but I am still very new to Matlab, so I don't know what functions to use, or where to even begin. Are there any training courses on this site that I can use to teach me how to answer this question? How would you all go about answering this question? Any help is very much appreciated and thank you :)


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Answers (1)

Star Strider
Star Strider on 29 Nov 2020
I would approach it as a compartmental modeling problem.
Plants grow at a specific rate, however some will die (for whatever reason), so this becomes a system of differential equations expressing the overall growth. Also, at some point they reach the limits of thier nutrients (consider electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesiun) and nitrogen (as nitrates), as well as available liquid water.
They have their predators, such as bacteria, fungi, insects and other animals.
Each of these is a different differential equation interacting with the other variables, together in a system of differential equations, that expresses the overall plant growth. I’m certain you can find information in the literature, and perhaps relevant models, that express all these and that you can use as a basis for your simulation. Much depends on how detailed you want to get.
It might also be interesting to include the plants’ evolutionary strategies, such as creating alkaloids that at least make them taste horrible or in the extreme disable or kill the predators, or become woody or unappetizing in other ways.
Obviously, you can take this to any level of detail you want!

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 29 Nov 2020
Plants also compete with each other. Some, such as Aspen, emit substances from their roots that kill off other plants in the area. Others, such as pine, drop leaves or needles that kill off other plants in the area. And, of course, nutrients used by one plant are not available to another plant until the first plant dies.
Some plants are symbiotic, or if not symbiotic exactly, at least help other particular plants to group. For example legumes such as lentils and peanuts fix nitrogen in their roots which makes it available to other nearby plants.

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