Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Maureen C. Kennedy; E. David. Ford
    Date: 2011
    Source: BioScience. 61(12): 994-1004
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (4.1 MB)


    Scientists frequently use computer-simulation models to help solve complex biological problems. Typically, such models are highly integrated, they produce multiple outputs, and standard methods of model analysis are ill suited for evaluating them. We show how multi-criteria optimization with Pareto optimality allows for model outputs to be compared to multiple system components simultaneously and improves three areas in which models are used for biological problems. In the study of optimal biological structures, Pareto optimality allows for the identification of multiple solutions possible for organism survival and reproduction, which thereby explains variability in optimal behavior. For model assessment, multi-criteria optimization helps to illuminate and describe model deficiencies and uncertainties in model structure. In environmental management and decisionmaking, Pareto optimality enables a description of the trade-offs among multiple conflicting criteria considered in environmental management, which facilitates better-informed decisionmaking.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Kennedy, Maureen C.; Ford, E. David. 2011. Using multi-criteria analysis of simulation models to understand complex biological systems. BioScience. 61(12): 994-1004.


    Pareto, environmental management, optimal biological structures, model assessment, multiple criteria

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page