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How can we as a society manage our natural resources differently to better protect the planet’s highly vulnerable biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides? Researchers specialising in ecological modelling are also trying to answer this question. Their models aim to promote a better understanding of how ecological and socio-ecological systems respond to change and human intervention – with the aim of predicting the response to change and taking into account relevant scales of time, space and organisation for management.

At the 9th European Conference on Ecological Modelling (ECEM), international scientists are meeting in Leipzig this week, including several members of Breathing Nature – with talks on topics ranging from modelling climate-biosphere feedbacks (Professor Ana Bastos, Professor Sönke Zaehle, Professor Jian Peng, Dr Nadja Rüger) to using machine learning to gain new ecological insights (Professor Miguel Mahecha).

ECEM participants will discuss how various aspects of modelling can be improved: representation of response mechanisms, multi-criteria model evaluation, model-data fusion, sensitivity and robustness analyses, upscaling and transferability to new regions, link to management scenarios, social-ecological systems, transparency and reproducibility, implementation and testing of theories and concepts, and multi-modelling synthesis.