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Trends Ecol Evol. 2010 Aug;25(8):479-86. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 Jun 3.

Ecological models supporting environmental decision making: a strategy for the future.

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UFZ, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Department of Ecological Modelling, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.


Ecological models are important for environmental decision support because they allow the consequences of alternative policies and management scenarios to be explored. However, current modeling practice is unsatisfactory. A literature review shows that the elements of good modeling practice have long been identified but are widely ignored. The reasons for this might include lack of involvement of decision makers, lack of incentives for modelers to follow good practice, and the use of inconsistent terminologies. As a strategy for the future, we propose a standard format for documenting models and their analyses: transparent and comprehensive ecological modeling (TRACE) documentation. This standard format will disclose all parts of the modeling process to scrutiny and make modeling itself more efficient and coherent.

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