Ecological models supporting environmental decision making: A strategy for the future

Amelie Schmolke, Pernille Thorbek, Donald L. DeAngelis, Volker Grimm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-486
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the members of the CREAM project ( ) for helpful suggestions and discussions during the CREAM kickoff meeting. Thanks to three anonymous reviewers for comments on a previous version of the manuscript. This work was supported by funding for AS by Syngenta. DLD was supported by the Biological Resources Division of the U. S. Geological Survey.


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