Qualitative or quantitative representations of key components of a system and of relationships between these components. Benchmarking (of models) is the process of systematically comparing sets of model predictions against measured data in order to evaluate model performance. Validation (of models) typically refers to checking model outputs for consistency with observations. However, since models cannot be validated in the formal sense of the term (i.e. proven to be true), some scientists prefer to use the words "benchmarking" or “evaluation".

  • A dynamic model is a model that describes changes through time of a specific process.
  • A process-based model (also known as “mechanistic model”) is a model in which relationships are described in terms of explicitly stated processes or mechanisms based on established scientific understanding, and model parameters therefore have clear ecological interpretation, defined beforehand.
  • Hybrid models are models that combine correlative and process-based modelling approaches.
  • A correlative model (also known as “statistical model”) is a model in which available empirical data are used to estimate values for parameters that do not have predefined ecological meaning, and for which processes are implicit rather than explicit.
  • Integrated assessment models are interdisciplinary models that aim to describe the complex relationships between environmental, social, and economic drivers that determine current and future state of the ecosystem and the effects of global change, in order to derive policy-relevant insights. One of the essential characteristics of integrated assessments is the simultaneous consideration of the multiple dimensions of environmental problems.