Approach for qualitative validation using aggregated data for a stochastic simulation model of the spread of the bovine viral-diarrhoea virus in a dairy cattle herd

Acta Biotheoretica 54 (3):207-217 (2006)
Qualitative validation consists in showing that a model is able to mimic available observed data. In population level biological models, the available data frequently represent a group status, such as pool testing, rather than the individual statuses. They are aggregated. Our objective was to explore an approach for qualitative validation of a model with aggregated data and to apply it to validate a stochastic model simulating the bovine viral-diarrhoea virus (BVDV) spread within a dairy cattle herd. Repeated measures of the level of BVDV-specific antibodies in the bulk-tank milk (total milk production of a herd) were used to summarise the BVDV herd status. First, a domain of validation was defined to ensure a comparison restricted to dynamics of pathogen spread well identified among observed aggregated data (new herd infection with a wide BVDV spread). For simulations, scenarios were defined and simulation outputs at the individual animal level were aggregated at the herd level using an aggregation function. Comparison was done only for observed data and simulated aggregated outputs that were in the domain of validation. The validity of our BVDV model was not rejected. Drawbacks and ways of improvement of the approach are discussed.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10441-006-8226-8
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