Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1086/683181
Title (Primary) Per aspera ad astra: through complex population modeling to predictive theory
Author Topping, C.J.; Alrøe, H.F.; Farrell, K.N.; Grimm, V.
Source Titel American Naturalist
Year 2015
Department OESA; iDiv
Volume 186
Issue 5
Page From 669
Page To 674
Language englisch
Keywords complexity; error avoidance; agent-based models; model development; modest approach
UFZ wide themes RU5;
Abstract Population models in ecology are often not good at predictions, even if they are complex and seem to be realistic enough. The reason for this might be that Occam’s razor, which is key for minimal models exploring ideas and concepts, has been too uncritically adopted for more realistic models of systems. This can tie models too closely to certain situations, thereby preventing them from predicting the response to new conditions. We therefore advocate a new kind of parsimony to improve the application of Occam’s razor. This new parsimony balances two contrasting strategies for avoiding errors in modeling: avoiding inclusion of nonessential factors (false inclusions) and avoiding exclusion of sometimes-important factors (false exclusions). It involves a synthesis of traditional modeling and analysis, used to describe the essentials of mechanistic relationships, with elements that are included in a model because they have been reported to be or can arguably be assumed to be important under certain conditions. The resulting models should be able to reflect how the internal organization of populations change and thereby generate representations of the novel behavior necessary for complex predictions, including regime shifts.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Topping, C.J., Alrøe, H.F., Farrell, K.N., Grimm, V. (2015):
Per aspera ad astra: through complex population modeling to predictive theory
Am. Nat. 186 (5), 669 - 674 10.1086/683181