December 2023 – We organize a modelling course to study the effects of human activities on marine ecosystems

Modelling courses to study the effects of human activities on marine ecosystems are back at the ICM!

During the week of the 11th to the 15th of December 2023, the ICM hosted, once again, an ecosystem modelling course to teach participants from different institutions around the world how to use modelling techniques to study the effects of human activities and climate change on marine ecosystems.

In total, 20 participants from 13 countries (Romania, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Holland, Greece, Italy and France) got together to learn about the ecosystem modelling approach Ecopath with Ecosim  (EwE,). This course, organized under 7 European and National projects (Ges4Seas, ActNow, MarinePlan, FutureMares, EcoScope, Oceans+, and ProOceans), aimed to help participants with their modelling-related tasks, work packages and deliverables.

Ecosystem modelling courses were frequently taught at ICM before 2019, and starting with this course, the intention is to organize them again on annual basis. These courses are a great opportunity for the scientific community to get introduced to one of the most applied ecological modelling tools in the world, while meeting participants from all over the world and learn about the recent developments of the approach.

A three-day introductory course was followed by a two-day advanced course. The introductory course discussed basic concepts and procedures modelling aquatic ecosystems using the EwE approach. Participants were provided with the principles behind EwE, and how to design, parameterize and analyze an ecological model. Introductory concepts of the temporal module Ecosim and the spatial-temporal module Ecospace were presented.

The advanced course discussed in-depth principles of Ecospace. Special focus was paid to how to use EwE to study the impacts of cumulative stressors, including the impact of climate change, and the effects of alternative management options of marine resources to move towards adaptation and mitigation of human activities under global change.

The course was taught by a team of core scientists behind EwE: Villy Christensen (University of British Columbia, Canada), Jeroen Steenbeek (Ecopath International Initiative, Spain) and Marta Coll (Institute of Marine Science, Spain). Three teaching assistants completed the team: Elena Lloret and Dorota Szalaj, from ICM, and Riikka Puntilla-Dodd, from Åbo Akademi University (Finland).