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

A.B.G. Janssen, G.B. Arhonditsis, Arthur Beusen, Karsten Bolding, Louise Bruce, Jorn Bruggeman, Raoul Marie Couture, Andrea S. Downing, J. Alex Elliott, M.A. Frassl, Gideon Gal, Daan J. Gerla, M.R. Hipsey, Fenjuan Hu, S.C. Ives, J.H. Janse, Erik Jeppesen, K.D. Jöhnk, David Kneis, Xiangzhen KongJ.J. Kuiper, M.K. Lehmann, Carsten Lemmen, Deniz Özkundakci, Thomas Petzoldt, Karsten Rinke, B.J. Robson, René Sachse, S.A. Schep, Martin Schmid, Huub Scholten, Sven Teurlincx, Dennis Trolle, T.A. Troost, A.A. Van Dam, L.P.A. Van Gerven, Mariska Weijerman, S.A. Wells, W.M. Mooij*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


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. To strive for clarity and to improve readability for non-modellers, we include a glossary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-548
JournalAquatic Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Ecology
  • Geochemistry
  • Hydraulics
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Hydrology
  • Linking
  • Model availability
  • Physical environment
  • Socio-economics
  • Standardization
  • Water quality


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