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First meeting of Steemi,the Student Ecological and Environmental Modelling Initiative on Tuesday 7th February 2012

The first meeting of STEEMI, the Student Ecological and Environmental Modelling Initiative took place on Tuesday 7th February 2012.  I met up with four students studying for a BSc in Ecological Science at the University of Edinburgh, and we discussed the value of models within ecology, and the potential to improve the practice of modelling.

Ecological and environmental models are a vital tool for capturing our understanding of complex human/nature systems, and for exploring possible futures in the face of unprecedented global challenges.

Some of these models, such as climate models, are huge, and managed by large and specialised groups. However, there are many thousands of models which are relatively simple (10s to 100s of equations), and which address many different topics, such as biodiversity, ecosystem services, rural livelihoods, and the management of renewable natural resources.

Unfortunately, these models are spread far and wide; they are difficult to find; they are implemented in a wide variety of languages; and they require the installation of specialist software. Together, this makes it very hard for other scientists and interested stakeholders to share and use these models.

STEEMI aims to use the considerable commitment and energy of the student population to make as many as these models as possible available for others to use.  Our approach is to convert the models into a standard web-based format (initially Simile XML, Simile's own XML-based model-representation language), and place these on the web, along with tools which allow these models to be viewed and run.


Robert Muetzelfeldt


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