Predictive systems ecology

Matthew R. Evans*, Mike Bithell, Stephen J. Cornell, Sasha R. X. Dall, Sandra Diaz, Stephen Emmott, Bruno Ernande, Volker Grimm, David J. Hodgson, Simon L. Lewis, Georgina M. Mace, Michael Morecroft, Aristides Moustakas, Eugene Murphy, Tim Newbold, K. J. Norris, Owen Petchey, Matthew Smith, Justin M. J. Travis, Tim G. Benton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Human societies, and their well-being, depend to a significant extent on the state of the ecosystems that surround them. These ecosystems are changing rapidly usually in response to anthropogenic changes in the environment. To determine the likely impact of environmental change on ecosystems and the best ways to manage them, it would be desirable to be able to predict their future states. We present a proposal to develop the paradigm of predictive systems ecology, explicitly to understand and predict the properties and behaviour of ecological systems. We discuss the necessary and desirable features of predictive systems ecology models. There are places where predictive systems ecology is already being practised and we summarize a range of terrestrial and marine examples. Significant challenges remain but we suggest that ecology would benefit both as a scientific discipline and increase its impact in society if it were to embrace the need to become more predictive.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20131452
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences
Issue number1771
Early online date2 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2013


  • modelling
  • systems ecology
  • climate change
  • ecosystem assessment
  • end-to-end
  • terrestrial biosphere model
  • krill euphausia-superba
  • agent-based models
  • climate-change
  • Scotia Sea
  • population-dynamics
  • marine ecosystems
  • forest dynamics
  • global change


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