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No. 198: Guidelines for selection of appropriate management model

Lønborg, C., Andersen, N.R., Erichsen, A.C. & Carstensen, J. 2021. Guidelines for selection of appropriate management model. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 18 pp. Technical Report No. 198. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/TR198.pdf


Ecosystem models are used to support the management and implementation of European directives (e.g. the Water Framework Directive (WFD)). Some of these models are based on sophisticated 3–D mechanistic marine ecosystem models, while others have a more simplistic setup. However, few attempts have been made to understand limitations, commonalities and differences between these models. In this report the main strengths and weaknesses of the models will be outlined and an evaluation given of how this influences the use of these model types.


Choosing the right model for managing marine ecosystems is challenging and depends strongly on the nature of the issues to be addressed and on the available dataset. However, generally, the user should select a model that has the least amount of complexity necessary to address the problem and where data are available to support the model setup and verification. However, choosing a too simple model also implies a risk for management as they might miss important details, thereby limiting its use.