Virtually all of the research undertaken by Marine Scotland Science results in the development of a biological model because the goal of scientists is to find out meaningful, relevent information which describes the relationships between different aspects of life in the sea.
Biological models (created the development of ecosystem models and the design and implementation of Biophysical modelling tools) are a way for a scientist to show what biological processes look like. In general, these processes are expressed in numbers - the essence of biological phenomena are captured as formulae or equations.
Biological models can be as simple as a general relationship between food and growth, or as complex as a description of the detailed interactions within a highly structured ecosystem. No matter how simple or complicated a model is, it will always be just a snapshot of the natural process it is trying to replicate. The challenge is to identify and retain the most relevant elements.
Marine Scotland Science (MSS) has worked in collaboration with other organisations to design, assemble and test ecosystem models of sea lochs and shelf waters.
These ecosystem models are used to develop mathematical relationships which simulate the transfer of energy and mass (e.g. carbon, nutrients) between and within the various trophic levels in the ecosystem and they can be used for a variety of applications; a recent example is the modelling work carried out to investigate the behaviour of Nutrients in the Coastal Waters of Scotland.
The bio-physical models developed by Marine Scotland Science are Individual-Based Models (IBMs) of biological processes, linked to Lagrangian particle tracking models which provide the spatial and temporal context for the biological processes. Marine Scotland Science's long track record in bio-physical modelling has been applied to a wide range of ecological investigations.
Marine Scotland Science has used bio-physical models to explain the long term trends in abundance of the copepod Calanus finmarchicus in the North Sea, as a function of ecological and climatic change, and their population dynamics in the North Atlantic. Bio-physical models have suggested a linkage between North Sea and west of Scotland monkfish populations and distant spawning areas on the north east Atlantic continental shelf and Rockall.
These models have been used to explore the transport of squid, crab larvae, and the distribution of salmon smolts in the sea.
Our most recent applications include the use of bio-physical models to investigate the relative importance of stock structure and environmental factors on the recruitment of cod and haddock, and a sea lice dispersal model in a Scottish sea loch.