Saturday, July 21, 2012

The art of ecological modeling

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 (36), 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 to being able to identify and measure the dynamics of influential network components, probably in the form of key species (7)."

1 comment:

fnkykntr said...

wow that is such a 1-dimensional wishy-washy article! modelling has many many applications in ecology, not simply to emulate an ecosystem using complex systems theory as the article implies. The appropriate complexity of a model depends on the research questions and given the right circumstances simple models can be wholly appropriate and as successful, perhaps even more successful, than complex ones that incorporate all kinds of measures of uncertainty, interactions etc. I'm not even sure what the point is that the author is making - other than ecological modelling is rather tricky (agreed!).