A Science article talks about the limitations of ecological models (especially in predicting the dynamics of real ecosystems) and their potentials in operational uses.
"Predicting the dynamics of real ecosystems—or even of components of
these ecosystems—will remain beyond the reach of even
the best ecosystem models for the foreseeable
future (see the figure). However, the emerging body of evidence (3–6),
suggests that ecological network models can be used to describe
ecosystem characteristics and general behavior, including
providing indicators of when ecosystems are being
stressed. Successful management of ecological processes will come down
being able to identify and measure the dynamics of
influential network components, probably in the form of key species (7)."