Canadian Forest Service Publications
Ecological modelling in the 21st century: Examining potential research directions and challenges. 2012. Larocque, G.R. Procedia Environ. Sci. 13:331-339.
Available from: Laurentian Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 33844
Available from the Journal's Web site. †
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Ecological modelling can be considered as a significant research activity in the majority of scientific disciplines related to natural resources. Models have been developed for nearly all types of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and for several animal populations. As many models are available, it is tempting to believe that there are no more significant challenges to be met in ecological modelling. Despite all the recent achievements, there are still important challenges that require basic research work. For the majority of ecosystems, many processes remain poorly understood, which is a major constraint for the derivation of adequate mathematical representations for conducting realistic simulations. Dealing with complexity remains a controversial topic that triggers new challenges. While some modellers believe that ecological models must be as simple as possible, others argue that complex models are essential for representing the complexity of nonlinear interactions. One of the greatest challenges in the 21st century will be to deal with global change issues. In particular, both temperature and CO2 increases will have interactive effects that scientists are just beginning to understand. Thus, modellers will have to think differently. Another challenge will consist in developing multidisciplinary models. For instance, major progress can be made by extending the concept of ecosystem to include different vegetation types, animal populations or water resources to model the flows of energy, carbon, water or nutrients through a landscape.