Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No 1 (2012)

Tangled ecosystem models: the temptation of siren songs and silence

Javier Ruiz
Department of Coastal Ecology and Management, Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucia (ICMAN-CSIC), Spain

Sakari Kuikka
FEM group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Spain


At a meeting on marine ecosystem modelling held in Barcelona in November 2010, a wide range of tools were introduced by their developers. An officer of the European Commission was invited to the meeting as a key client of these tools, and he severely criticized the tools presented as being useless. This criticism led to a strong reaction by the modellers and an interesting debate. In this paper we summarize part of this debate, focusing on one of the potential reasons why final users are not using these tools: the isomorphism between the ecosystem and its deterministic representation through mathematical equations is fragile and a new generation of maps is necessary to represent the intrinsic uncertainty of their dynamics through models.


ecosystem models; Bayesian; ecosystem approach; uncertainty

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