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There is now good agreement on what constitutes an end-to-end ecosystem model, and the field has seen rapid advances in recent years. Many different model frameworks are available that resolve, to various levels of detail, interactions between oceanography, the broader environment (e.g. climate or cryosphere), biogeochemical cycles, foodweb dynamics and human industries and markets. In the face of these advances, there is a pressing need to synthesise available tools and approaches, and to identify key gaps that might affect the continued (and increasing) development and use of end-to-end models in decision-making. Such a synthesis is also an important means to avoid duplication of effort.

In this session we aim to promote an integrated approach across the modelling community in the development of end-to-end ecosystem models.  We seek to synthesise the components, mechanics and applications that exist across the range of end-to-end models now available for marine ecosystems. Through invited and contributed talks and posters we will populate a matrix based around these three factors (the figure below gives an example matrix, but the exact form of the classification will be determined based on input from participants before and during the IMBER OSC). Importantly, this synthesis will aid in identifying specific challenges that lie ahead in attempts to integrate the physical environment, food webs and human components into modelling frameworks useful for management.


End-to-end models for marine ecosystems ideally have the ability to incorporate some combination of physical, biogeochemical, ecological and socioeconomic processes. They are important foundations of research and are starting to be used for science-based decision-making.

End-to-end models enable us to represent complex social-ecological systems globally, integrating the feedbacks between sub-components that are usually considered separately. They are essential for identifying key knowledge gaps and data needs. They are also important tools for simulating and evaluating scenarios to help identify uncertainties about the future behaviours of ecosystems, or the implications of different management options. End-to-end models are particularly relevant in situations where interactions and feedbacks are important, such as environmentally driven systems, complex food web dynamics, or when there are conflicts between user groups or between economic performance and biodiversity conservation.

A key challenge faced by the ecosystem research community is to develop the capacity to generate predictive models that can be used to assess the potential future impacts of climate change (and interactions with other human activities). This session is intended to contribute to this goal through an increased collective understanding of the existing “modelscape” of end-to- end marine ecosystem models and other types of models that may be useful, for both modellers and non-modellers, in informing the development and/or implementation of e2e models. Other outcomes include:

  • Increased communication and collaboration, leading to better synergies and understanding between different groups engaging in marine ecosystem modelling and between modellers and non- modellers

  • Identifying the common difficulties and data needs that are faced in building marine ecosystem models, and discussion on how these obstacles can/have been overcome.

  • An outline of a manuscript that will become an opinion piece on the future directions and challenges of marine ecosystem models.

Background reading

Ballerini, T., et al. Productivity and linkages of the food web of the southern region of the western Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf. Prog. Oceanogr. (2013),

Fiechter, J., G. Broquet, A.M. Moore, H.G. Arango (2011). A data assimilative, coupled physical-biological model for the Coastal Gulf of Alaska. Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans 51(3): 75-98.

Fulton, E. A. 2010. Approaches to end-to-end ecosystem models. Journal of Marine Systems 81:171–183.

Link, J. S., T. F. Ihde, C. J. Harvey, S. K. Gaichas, J. C. Field, J. K. T. Brodziak, H. M. Townsend, and R. M. Peterman. 2012. Dealing with uncertainty in ecosystem models: The paradox of use for living marine resource management. Progress in Oceanography 102:102–114. 

Maury, O. 2010. An overview of APECOSM, a spatialized mass balanced “Apex Predators ECOSystem Model” to study physiologically structured tuna population dynamics in their ecosystem. Progress in Oceanography 84:113–117.

Murphy, E., and E. Hofmann. 2012. End-to-end in Southern Ocean ecosystems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 4:1–8.

Rose, K. A., J. I. Allen, Y. Artioli, M. Barange, J. Blackford, F. Carlotti, R. Cropp, U. Daewel, K. Edwards, K. Flynn, S. L. Hill, R. HilleRisLambers, G. Huse, S. Mackinson, B. Megrey, A. Moll, R. Rivkin, B. Salihoglu, C. Schrum, L. Shannon, Y.-J. Shin, S. L. Smith, C. Smith, C. Solidoro, M. St John, and M. Zhou. 2010. End-to-end models for the analysis of marine ecosystems: challenges, issues, and next steps. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 2:115–130.

Steele, J. H., E. E. Hofmann, and D. J. Gifford. 2012. End-to-end models: Management applications. Progress in Oceanography 102:1–4.


Steele, J.H., Ruzicka, J.J., Constructing end-to-end models using ECOPATH data, J. Mar. Syst. (2011), doi:10.1016/j. jmarsys.2011.04.005

Travers, M., Y. J. Shin, S. Jennings, and P. Cury. 2007. Towards end-to-end models for investigating the effects of climate and fishing in marine ecosystems. Progress in Oceanography 75:751–770.



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SOKI Wiki (2014) Friday 6 Jun 2014.

 Page contributors: Administrator , Jess Melbourne-Thomas , Stuart Corney


Last modified on: Jun 06, 2014 09:24


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