Game of Clones

Modelling the spacial spread and control of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a fast-growing, sturdy plant species. Originating from Asia, Japanese knotweed spread extensively throughout North America and Europe. Having taken hold, it gains ground through vegetative propagation, forming dense clusters (clones) that can grow to a height of four metres. These “monocultures” cause fundamental changes to existing ecosystems and biotopes in terms of diversity, structure and appearance, which poses a significant problem not only in landscapes that are invaluable from a nature conservation perspective, such as watercourses, alluvial forests, wetland habitats and fallow land in particular, but also along railway lines and roads. Japanese knotweed is therefore actively tackled in many European regions and especially in nature conservation areas. This subject is therefore of relevance at a European scale.

In the context of the project, we wanted to model the propagation behaviour of the plant spatially, under various conditions, and provide a computer simulation as an experimental platform. The various control methods are discussed in a “Game of Clones” strategy game. Different measures and combinations of measures proved effective, depending on the initial situation. As the game includes real-world landscapes (satellite images), it can be used to devise specific remedial measures.

This project has been completed.