Do simple models lead to generality in ecology?

Matthew R. Evans*, Volker Grimm, Karin Johst, Tarja Knuuttila, Rogier de Langhe, Catherine M. Lessells, Martina Merz, Maureen A. O'Malley, Steve H. Orzack, Michael Weisberg, Darren J. Wilkinson, Olaf Wolkenhauer, Tim G. Benton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)


Modellers of biological, ecological, and environmental systems cannot take for granted the maxim 'simple means general means good'. We argue here that viewing simple models as the main way to achieve generality may be an obstacle to the progress of ecological research. We show how complex models can be both desirable and general, and how simple and complex models can be linked together to produce broad-scale and predictive understanding of biological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-583
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

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