A model is a device used to describe what are believed to be essential features of a natural process, i.e. of the development in time of various events, or of a so-called natural field, i.e. the distribution in space of various phenomena. Sometimes a model is used to describe both a process and a field as in mathematical models for weather forecasting. Compartment models, or box models as they are also called, are essentially models of natural processes. Compartment models are integrated, which means that they are designed to describe the time development of average properties in defined spaces, in particular where a detailed description of the space is lacking or when the detailed processes in the space are so complex as to elude the grasp of mind. A compartment is thus a space which must be defined in one way or another. The property of interest in this space is conceptually described as the volume integral of that propcrty inside the space, i.e. a mass, a number, or an amount of a form of energy. The advantage of performing such a volume integration is obvious. We avoid to a large extent the complexity of the detailed processes-physical,
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1971
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