ECOTOOLS Modelling and Simulation of Ecological Systems


The global purpose of the ECOTOOLS project was to investigate and develop software tools for the modelling, simulation and analysis of ecological population models. The whole project is actually made up of 3 different sub projects, which have been accomplished successively over the stated time period. In the following, the developed tools will be presented shortly and further references are given.

Population Viability Analysis Traffic Mortality Assessment Computer Model Management Programming Framework

Population Viability Analysis

The computer tools developed within this sub project may be used to examine possible changes in the environment as well as management strategies to maintain endangered populations or species.

The Pop-X tool aims at modelling and understanding the properties and dynamics of small populations that are exposed to the risk of extinction. The main objective is to investigate the probability of small population to become extinct, respectively to survive a given period of time. For that purpose the model takes detailed information about the habitat quality, reproduction rate, female/male ratio and so on into account. Where animal populations are distributed over a couple of discrete patches between which animals migrate (so called meta populations), the Meta-X tool can be used for viability analysis.













This subproject ran in close cooperation with the Center for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle (UFZ), which not only supported the project financially but in addition provided a long-standing experience in the modelling of ecological systems. They also developed the fixed generic models the tools base on.

Meta-X website Pop-X website Grimm, V.; Lorek, H.; Finke, J.; Köster, F.; Malachinski, M.; Sonnenschein, M.; Moilanen, A.; Storch, I.; Wissel, Ch.; Frank, K., 2004: Meta-X: Generic Software for Metapopulation Viability Analysis. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 165-188Frank, K.; Lorek, H.; Köster, F.; Sonnenschein, M.; Wissel, Ch.; Grimm, V., 2002: Meta-X - Software for Metapopulation Viability Analysis. Springer Verlag, ISBN 3-540-44182-4 Köster, F.; Stephan, Th.; Finke, J.; Sonnenschein, M., 2000: Ein Simulationswerkzeug zum praktischen Einsatz in Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung - ExiDlg. In D.P.F. Möller (Hrsg.), Frontiers in Simulation, Simulationstechnik - 14. Symposium in Hamburg, September 2000, ASIM, pp. 503-508


Traffic Mortality Assessment

Also for the UFZ, the AniTraX tool was developed. This tool aims at assessing the additional mortality of a species caused by dense traffic in a certain habitat. Especially in industrial nations huge traffic amount may become a threat to the survival of small mammals. Due to the generic model developed by the UFZ the field of application for AniTraX is not limited to traffic risk assessment, but can be extended to other kinds of anthropogenic disturbances in an environment. The modern graphical user interface allows comfortable parameterization of the model and a clear evaluation of the simulation outcomes.





Finke, J.; Köster, F.; Frank, K.; Sonnenschein, M., 2003: A Software Tool for Assessing the Effect of Traffic on Wildlife Populations. In A. Gnauck, R. Heinrichs (Eds.).: "The Information Society and Enlargement of the European Union" 17th International Symposium Informatics for Environmental Protection. Part 2, Metropolis-Verlag, pp. 692-699

Computer Model Management

In environmental sciences many different computer models are in use for research and application studies. Frequently, problems arise if a modeller wants to document the process how research results have been gained by simulation. To overcome these problems our working group designed and implemented Info-X as a prototype how model management can be supported. It is a database based application which stores simulation experiments in combination with the used computer models. Due to the usage of a XML based metadata language this system is flexible and can be adapted to a wide range of simulation models. Special requirements for the management of ecological models have been considered, for example geographic references to the research area.






Köster, F.; Finke, J.; Frank, K.; Sonnenschein, M.: An Information System for the Management of Ecological Simulations. In W. Pillmann, K. Tochtermann(Eds.).: "Environmental Communication in the Information Society" 16th International Symposium Informatics for Environmental Protection. ISEP, Vienna, Part 1, pp. 655-662

Programming Framework

In contrast to the other tools our EcoSim library is a programming tool. It is a high-level problem oriented C++ class library designed to support the development, visualisation and analysis of individual-oriented ecological models. Users of EcoSim are programmers who want to implement their own (complex) individual-oriented models.


EcoSim website

Lorek, H.; Sonnenschein, M., 1999: Modelling and Simulation Software to Support Individual-Based Ecological Modelling. Ecological Modelling, Vol. 115, Nos. 2-3, pp.199-216


Start: 31.05.1994
End: 29.04.2003