FISH 501

Ecosystem Modeling with Ecopath with Ecosim

Credit Value

3 credits


Term 2, Tu & Th 9:00 – 11:00 am

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UBC Calendar


The course is focused on how the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE, modelling framework can be used to address scientific questions related to food web modelling, and notably how to address questions as part of ecosystem-based management. The underlying theories will be introduced throughout, but the emphasis will be on hands-on with actual implementation in the software system.

The course will cover a series of topics:

  • Data requirements and availability
  • Extracting data from online databases, notably FishBase
  • Parameters and mass-balance
  • Network analysis and ecosystem indicators
  • Economic and social aspects: the value chain from producer to consumer
  • Time-dynamic modeling: the foraging arena
  • Fitting ecosystem models to time series data
  • Modeling environmental impacts and mediation
  • Uncertainty, Monte Carlo approaches
  • Management strategy evaluation
  • Using ecosystem modeling for environmental impact assessments
  • Introduction to spatial modeling
  • Spatial modelling with habitat capacity/species distribution models
  • Spatial optimizations/zoning

There will be a number of assignments during the course with the intention of developing a draft ecosystem modelling paper:

  1. Define a research question to be explored with ecosystem modelling, and write it up as an introduction
  2. Methods
  3. Results
  4. Discussion

The final assignment will be the combination of the assignments above, presented to jointly constitute a complete (draft) paper.

The participants are asked to make a presentation at the end of the course based on the modelling. There is no final or mid-term exam.

EwE is freely available at, as a Windows-based software. Mac users are encouraged to install a virtualization software (the free Virtual Box is recommended) and Windows. Participants with Macs are welcome to contact Villy Christensen to discuss this before the course start, as are anyone else who have questions.

More information (course website)

Course Instructor

Dr Villy Christensen

Teaching Assistant & Instructor

Santiago de la Puente

Guest lecturers

Deng Palomares

Carl Walters