Castles built on sand: Dysfunctionality in plankton models and the inadequacy of dialogue between biologists and modellers

  • Flynn K
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Although lip service is often paid to the involvement of modellers in the design of biological experiments and to a lesser degree to a role for biologists in construction of dynamic models, on closer examination the ultimate communication failings and associated waste of effort are all too obvious. Biologists need to work with modellers to ensure that data collected are more amenable to modelling (notably C-N-P biomass, rather than just Chl, or organism numbers), to measure the fate of non- or lesser-limiting nutrients, and the release/production of particulate and dissolved organics from organisms. Modellers should not omit representations of biological behaviour unless it is demonstrated (empirically and/or mathematically) that it is safe to do so; the performance of each part of an ecosystem model should be demonstrated as being fit for purpose and not dysfunctional. Modelling should be accepted as a research tool within biology and ecology with just as much emphasis as enjoyed by statistical and molecular methods.

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  • K. J. Flynn

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