Best practice in Ecopath with Ecosim food-web models for ecosystem-based management

Type Article
Date 2016-07
Language English
Author(s) Heymans Johanna Jacomina1, Coll MartaORCID2, 3, Link Jason S.4, Mackinson StevenORCID5, Steenbeek JeroenORCID6, Walters Carl7, Christensen VillyORCID7
Affiliation(s) 1 : Scottish Marine Inst, Scottish Assoc Marine Sci, Oban PA37 1QA, Argyll, Scotland.
2 : Inst Rech Dev UMR MARBEC MARine Biodiver Exploita, Ave Jean Monnet,BP 171, F-34203 Sete, France.
3 : Inst Marine Sci ICM CSIC, Passeig Maritim Barceloneta 37-49, Barcelona 08003, Spain.
4 : NOAA Fisheries, Woods Hole, MA 02543 USA.
5 : Cefas, Pakefield Rd, Lowestoft NR33 0HT, Suffolk, England.
6 : Ecopath Int Initiat Res Assoc, Barcelona, Spain.
7 : Univ British Columbia, Inst Oceans & Fisheries, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada.
Source Ecological Modelling (0304-3800) (Elsevier Science Bv), 2016-07 , Vol. 331 , P. 173-184
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.12.007
WOS© Times Cited 317
Keyword(s) Ecopath with Ecosim, Ecological network analysis, Ecosystem modelling, Ecosystem-based management, Monte Carlo, Time series fitting

Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) models are easier to construct and use compared to most other ecosystem modelling techniques and are therefore more widely used by more scientists and managers. This, however, creates a problem with quality assurance; to address this we provide an overview of best practices for creating Ecopath, models. We describe the diagnostics that can be used to check for thermodynamic and ecological principles, and highlight principles that should be used for balancing a model. We then highlight the pitfalls when comparing Ecopath models using Ecological Network Analysis indices. For dynamic simulations in Ecosim we show the state of the art in calibrating the model by fitting it to time series using a formal fitting procedure and statistical goodness of fit. Finally, we show how Monte Carlo simulations can be used to address uncertainty in input parameters, and we discuss the use of models in a management context, specifically using the concept of 'key runs' for ecosystem-based management. This novel list of best practices for EwE models will enable ecosystem managers to evaluate the goodness of fit of the given EwE model to the ecosystem management question.

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