Exploring, exploiting and evolving diversity of aquatic ecosystem models: a community perspective

Here, we present a community perspective on how to explore, exploit and evolve the diversity in aquatic ecosystem models. These models play an important role in understanding the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, filling in observation gaps and developing effective strategies for water quality management. In this spirit, numerous models have been developed since the 1970s.

We set off to explore model diversity by making an inventory among 42 aquatic ecosystem modellers, by categorizing the resulting set of models and by analysing them for diversity. We then focus on how to exploit model diversity by comparing and combining different aspects of existing models. Finally, we discuss how model diversity came about in the past and could evolve in the future. Throughout our study, we use analogies from biodiversity research to analyse and interpret model diversity.

We recommend to make models publicly available through open-source policies, to standardize documentation and technical implementation of models, and to compare models through ensemble modelling and interdisciplinary approaches. We end with our perspective on how the field of aquatic ecosystem modelling might develop in the next 5–10 years. A glossary is included for clarity and to improve readability for non-modellers.


PBL Authors
Arthur Beusen Jan Janse
Other authors
Annette B. G. Janssen
George B. Arhonditsis
Karsten Bolding
Louise Bruce
Jorn Bruggeman
Raoul-Marie Couture
Andrea S. Downing
J. Alex Elliott
Marieke A. Frassl
Gideon Gal
Daan J. Gerla
Matthew R. Hipsey
Fenjuan Hu
Stephen C. Ives
Erik Jeppesen
Klaus D. Jöhnk
David Kneis
Xiangzhen Kong
Jan J. Kuiper
Moritz K. Lehmann
Carsten Lemmen
Deniz Özkundakci
Thomas Petzoldt
Karsten Rinke
Barbara J. Robson
René Sachse
Sebastiaan A. Schep
Martin Schmid
Huub Scholten
Sven Teurlincx
Dennis Trolle
Tineke A. Troost
Anne A. Van Dam
Luuk P. A. Van Gerven
Mariska Weijerman
Scott A. Wells
Wolf M. Mooij


Publication title
Exploring, exploiting and evolving diversity of aquatic ecosystem models: a community perspective
Publication date
29 September 2015
Publication type
Page count
Publication language
Aquatic Ecology
December 2015, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 513–548
Product number