From data compilation to model validation: comparing three ecosystem models of the Tasman and Golden Bays, New Zealand

PeerJ. 2021 Jul 19:9:e11712. doi: 10.7717/peerj.11712. eCollection 2021.


The Tasman and Golden Bays (TBGB) are a semi-enclosed embayment system in New Zealand that supports numerous commercial and recreational activities. We present three ecosystem models of the TBGB ecosystem with varying levels of complexity, aimed at contributing as tools to aid in understanding this ecosystem and its responses to anthropogenic and natural pressures. We describe the process of data compilation through to model validation and analyse the importance of knowledge gaps with respect to model dynamics and results. We compare responses in all three models to historical fishing, and analyse similarities and differences in the dynamics of the three models. We assessed the most complex of the models against initialisation uncertainty and sensitivity to oceanographic variability and found it most sensitive to the latter. We recommend that scenarios relating to ecosystem dynamics of the TBGB ecosystem include sensitivities, especially oceanographic uncertainty, and compare responses across all three models where it is possible to do so.

Keywords: Ecosystem model; Fisheries; Model comparison; Sensitivity analysis; Sustainable Seas; Tasman and Golden Bays; Validation.

Grants and funding

This work was funded under NIWA project FIFI2001 and Sustainable Seas Phase 1. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.