Moving from eco-forecasts to eco-projections

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Ecological models can provide estimates of future conditions that are useful for decision-making, including long-term planning and resource prioritization. However, these models often rely on assumptions about ecological relationships and trajectories, forcings (e.g., biophysical conditions), and management approaches that may not be explicitly considered. To make assumptions more transparent, disciplines such as economics, demographics, climatology, and national intelligence make a fairly clear and consistent distinction between “forecasts” and “projections”. Forecasts are typically more near-term and rely on extending existing relationships and trends to estimate the most likely future conditions; whereas projections evaluate conditions under multiple scenarios that are based on an array of assumptions, often going further out in time. Consistently referring to ecological models of future conditions as either “eco-forecasts” or “eco-projections” could help make modelling assumptions more transparent and thus more effectively focus their application across landscapes and through time. To the extent that ecological modelling is used to support management, policy, and programmatic decisions, practitioners can ask the following. If the modelling is an eco-forecast, is it worth considering different initial conditions, trajectories, or forcings based on alternative scenarios? If the modelling is an eco-projection, are the underlying assumptions and future scenarios explicit, and are decisions properly tempered with respect to those modelling specifications? We demonstrate these concepts and methods for conducting eco-projections through examples from invasion biology and climate adaptation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Moving from eco-forecasts to eco-projections
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher BYU ScholarsArchive
Contributing office(s) North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software
Conference Title 9th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software
Conference Location Fort Collins, Colorado
Conference Date June 27, 2018
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