Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 451995
Title Merging validation and evaluation of ecological models to evaluation': a review of terminology and a practical approach
Author(s) Augusiak, J.A.; Brink, P.J. van den; Grimm, V.
Source Ecological Modelling 280 (2014). - ISSN 0304-3800 - p. 117 - 128.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.11.009
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
Environmental Risk Assessment
WIMEK
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2014
Keyword(s) individual-based models - risk-assessment - environmental-models - quality-assurance - simulation-model - complex-systems - beech forests - assessments - verification - uncertainty
Abstract Confusion about model validation is one of the main challenges in using ecological models for decision support, such as the regulation of pesticides. Decision makers need to know whether a model is a sufficiently good representation of its real counterpart and what criteria can be used to answer this question. Unclear terminology is one of the main obstacles to a good understanding of what model validation is, how it works, and what it can deliver. Therefore, we performed a literature review and derived a standard set of terms. ‘Validation’ was identified as a catch-all term, which is thus useless for any practical purpose. We introduce the term ‘evaludation’, a fusion of ‘evaluation’ and ‘validation’, to describe the entire process of assessing a model's quality and reliability. Considering the iterative nature of model development, the modelling cycle, we identified six essential elements of evaludation: (i) ‘data evaluation’ for scrutinising the quality of numerical and qualitative data used for model development and testing; (ii) ‘conceptual model evaluation’ for examining the simplifying assumptions underlying a model's design; (iii) ‘implementation verification’ for testing the model's implementation in equations and as a computer programme; (iv) ‘model output verification’ for comparing model output to data and patterns that guided model design and were possibly used for calibration; (v) ‘model analysis’ for exploring the model's sensitivity to changes in parameters and process formulations to make sure that the mechanistic basis of main behaviours of the model has been well understood; and (vi) ‘model output corroboration’ for comparing model output to new data and patterns that were not used for model development and parameterisation. Currently, most decision makers require ‘validating’ a model by testing its predictions with new experiments or data. Despite being desirable, this is neither sufficient nor necessary for a model to be useful for decision support. We believe that the proposed set of terms and its relation to the modelling cycle can help to make quality assessments and reality checks of ecological models more comprehensive and transparent. Keywords Model validation; Terminology; Decision support; Documentation; Ecological models; Risk assessment
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