Prof. Dr. Volker Grimm


Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ    

Department Ecological Modelling

Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig

Building 1.0, Room 211 map

Tel.: +49 341 235-1711    
Fax: +49 341 235-1473    

Sylvia Ecogod

NEW: Our new textbook on agent-based modelling!

Research Interests

  • How to model it: Ecological models, in particular simulation models, often seem to be formulated ad hoc and only poorly analysed. I am therefore interested in strategies and methods for making ecological modelling more coherent and efficient. The ultimate aim is to develop preditive models that provide mechanstic understanding of ecological systems and that are transparent and structurally realistic enough to support environmental decision making.
  • Pattern-oriented modelling: This is a general strategy of using multiple patterns observed in real systems as multiple criteria for chosing model structure, selecting among alternative submodels, and inversely determining entire sets of unknown model parameters.
  • Individual-based and agent-based modelling: For many, if not most, ecological questions individual-level aspects can be decisive for explaining system-level behavior. IBM/ABMs allow to represent individual heterogeneity, local interactions, and/or adaptive behaviour
  • Ecological theory and concepts: I am particularly interested in exploring stability properties like resilience and persistence.
  • Modelling for ecological applications: Pattern-oriented modelling allows to develop structurally realistic models, which can be used to support decision making and the management of biodiversity and natural resources. Currently, I am involved in the EU project CREAM, where a suite of population models is developed for pesticide risk assessment.
  • Standards for model communication and formulation: In 2006, we published a general protocol for describing individual- and agent-based models, called the ODD protocol (Overview, Design concepts, details). ODD turned out to be more useful (and needed) than we expected. An update of the protocol and its description appeared 2010(for further details, see ODD website).


  • Special Issue in Ecological Modelling Uta Berger (TU Dresden) and I are editing a Special Issue in the journal "Ecological Modelling" which is dedicated to the 70th birthday of Donald DeAngelis. The title of the special issue is: "Next generation ecological modelling, concepts, and theory: structural realism, emergence, and predictions". Contributions can be suggested until July 31, 2014. For further information, see: Special Issue.
  • ABM Textbook:
    Steve Railsback from Humboldt State University, California, and I wrote a textbook on individual-/agent- based modelling which is based on the software platform NetLogo. The book is for undergraduate and graduate students (and their instructors) from any discipline where agentbased models are used. For further information, see: ABM textbook website.
  • Honey bees
    The aim of the project was to explore and make predictions about the relative importance of, and interactions between, the multitude of factors that affect honeybee colony strength and survival in arable landscapes. The project was carried out at Rothamsted Research, UK; project leader is Juliet Osborne (now: University of Exeter). The resulting model is available here: BEEHAVE.