Ecosystem-Based Management Tools May Fail…

without changes to development and financing, according to a new paper in BioScience.

Our colleagues at the EBM Tools Network are the authors of this paper, which stresses the importance of consistent, long-term funding.

The full text of the article is available here:

http://mgel.env.duke.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/bio.2012.62.5.13_Curtice_et_al.pdf

Did you realize that the amount of funding available to EBM tool developers is less than 2% of that invested in new commercial software efforts?

The main benefit of EBM tools is their ability to help solve real-world problems and aid in decision making. Because many software developers working in EBM tool development and application (including WPC) believe in these tools remaining fee-free and open-source, finances for development come primarily from research grants and as add-ons to model application contracts.  A consequence of this is that users of these tools have commonly mentioned that models were difficult to apply due to poor documentation and maintenance and often contained software bugs. Logically,  developers attribute the lack of higher-quality software to the lack of  sufficient long-term funding.  An additional challenge for developers and researchers is estimating the effort required when proposing model development contracts.

SLAMM meets two of the three criteria the article sets forth for financially sustainable tools- where it falls short is having an “expected source of funding for the foreseeable future”. Our ideas for improving SLAMM extend beyond the funding sources available for model development. We understand our clients are not always in the position to fund long-term development of the model and feel the model in its current form remains a useful tool for managers and policymakers. However, we continue to actively seek to improve the model and find the article by Curtice and coworkers a useful tool in itself to educate users, developers, and funders.

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