2023-2024 / OCEA0089-1

Introduction to marine ecosystems modelling


15h Th, 15h Pr

Number of credits

 Master of Science (MSc) in Data Science3 crédits 
 Master of Science (MSc) in Data Science and Engineering3 crédits 
 Master in oceanography (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


Marilaure Grégoire

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

CHAPTER 1 Introduction

  • What is a model?
  • Why do we need models?
CHAPTER 2 Model formulation

  • Conceptual model
  • Mathematical model formulation
  • Formulation of ecological interactions
  • Chemical reactions
  • Inhibition
  • Coupled model equations
  • Impact of physical conditions
CHAPTER 3 Spatial components

  • Taonomy of spatial models
  • Spatial boundary conditions
  • Example: competitive interactions in a lattice model
CHAPTER 4 Parameterisation

  • In situ measurement
  • Literature-Derived parameters
  • Calib_ters.43
CHAPTER 5 Model solution

  • Initial conditions
  • Analytical solutions of differential equations
  • Numerical solution of differential equations
  • Steady-state and stability analysis
CHAPTER 6 Testing and validating the model

  • Dimensional homogeneity and consistency of units
  • Conservation of energy and mass
  • Testing the correctness of the model solution
  • Testing the internal logic of the model
  • Model verification
  • Model validity
  • Model sensitivity
  • Example_74
  • Example of the conservation principle: a mass budget of a marine bay
CHAPTER 7 Taxonomy of ecological models

  • Strategic versus tactic models
  • Continuous and discrete time models
  • Deterministic and stochastic models
  • Density-biomass specific models
  • Physiological - individual-based - population - ecosystem models
  • Example: growth of a Daphnia individual
CHAPTER 8 Appendices

  • Taxonomy of differential equations
  • Solving difference equations
CHAPTER 9 Books for further reading

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The main aim of this course is to learn how to conceptualize, parameterize and implement mathematical models of marine biogeochemical and ecological processes

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

None. The mathematics used will be quiet elementary

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The half part of the time will be devoted to the implementation of very simple examples in order to get familliar with models implementation

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

1.5 ECTS : theory
1.5 ECTS : Exercises

Recommended or required readings

Lecture notes (theory, exercices) are available via eCampus. Each lecture is podcasted to allow the student to revise the lecture at his own pace. 

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Written work / report

Additional information:

A written, in-person, examination will be organized in January.  This exam will not require the use of a computer. It will involve questions on the theory, practicals and homework.  

A homework  is due for January 7th at midnight. Description of the homework will be given during the lecture and will be made available via eCampus. Students will have to develop, implement and analyze a simple biogeochemical model to solve an environmental problem.  This homework has to be realized by group of 3-4 students. A written report of ~10 pages describing the results and answering a list of questions has to be provided as well as the Rmd file describing the model code. Questions on the homework will be part of the written exam.

For those who failed in January, a  second session exam will be planned in August/September. This second session exam will be similar to that organized in January. 

All the exams are exclusevely in person. 


Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course



Prof. Marilaure Grégoire,

MAST research group

Department of Astrophysics, Geophysics and Oceanography (AGO)

e-mail : mgregoire@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs