The simulation of rural land use systems in general, and rural settlement dynamics in particular, has developed with synergies of theory and methods for decades. Three current issues are: linking spatial patterns and processes, representing hierarchical relations across scales, and considering nonlinearity to address complex non-stationary settlement dynamics. We present a hierarchical simulation model to investigate complex rural settlement dynamics in Nang Rong, Thailand. This simulation uses sub-models to allocate new villages at three spatial scales. Regional and sub-regional models, which involve a nonlinear space-time autoregressive model implemented in a neural network approach, determine the number of new villages to be established. A dynamic village niche model, establishing a pattern-process link, was designed to enable the allocation of villages into specific locations. Spatiotemporal variability in model performance indicates that the pattern of village location changes as a settlement frontier advances from rice-growing lowlands to higher elevations. Simulation experiments demonstrate that this simulation model can enhance our understanding of settlement development in Nang Rong and thus gain insight into complex land use systems in this area.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/george_malanson/41/