Villy Christensen

Villy Christensen is an ecosystem modeller with a background in fisheries science. He is known for his work as a project leader and core developer of Ecopath, an ecosystem modelling software system widely used in fisheries management.[1] Ecopath was initially an initiative of the NOAA, but since primarily developed at the UBC Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. In 2007, it was named as one of the ten biggest scientific breakthroughs in NOAA’s 200-year history. The citation states that Ecopath “revolutionized scientists’ ability worldwide to understand complex marine ecosystems".[2]

Villy Christensen
Alma materCopenhagen University
Known forDeveloping Ecopath
Scientific career
FieldsEcosystem modelling, fisheries science
InstitutionsUBC Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia
Doctoral advisorSven Erik Jørgensen


Christensen did his Ph.D under Sven Erik Jørgensen at Copenhagen University. Jeffrey Polovina initiated the Ecopath approach in the early 1980s.[3] Christensen, along with Daniel Pauly and others, has been involved in the subsequent development of Ecopath since 1990.[4][5]

Christensen currently facilitates international workshops on Ecopath around the world. He is a professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, specialising in ecosystem modelling. His main project is with the Sea Around Us Project working on "database-driven ecosystem model construction", with the aim of using "global, spatial databases to parameterize, balance and fit ecosystem models".[6] This work includes developing a dynamic exchange model of biomass over time in the Chesapeake Bay area, as well as how marine protected areas can be optimally positioned.[6] He is also director of the Lenfest Ocean Futures Project,[7] where a visualization system is being developed to support decision making in ecosystem-based fisheries management. This system combines Blender, a 3D-gaming engine, with Ecopath.[8][9][10][11]

Selected papers


  1. ^ Ecopath with Ecosym Main website.
  2. ^ NOAA: ECOPATH Modeling: Precursor to an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Top ten breakthroughs.
  3. ^ Polovina JJ and Marten, GG (1982) "A comparative study of fish yields from various tropical ecosystems". In: Pauly D and Murphy GI (Eds.) Theory and Management of Tropical Fisheries. ICLARM Conference Proceedings 9, 255–286.
  4. ^ Christensen V and Pauly D (1992) "ECOPATH II - A software for balancing steady-state ecosystem models and calculating network characteristics" Ecological Modelling, 61:169-185.
  5. ^ Christensen V and Walters CJ (2004) "Ecopath with Ecosim: methods, capabilities and limitations" Ecological Modelling 172, 109–139
  6. ^ a b Dr Villy Christensen UBC web site. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  7. ^ "Lenfest Ocean Futures Project". Archived from the original on 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  8. ^ MDM/UBC Fisheries Ocean Viz Collaboration Youtube.
  9. ^ Fish Population Data Visualisation BlenderNation, 9 April 2008
  10. ^ Ocean 120MB video.
  11. ^ Ocean Summits and Virtual Fish: Games for a Sustainable Future

External links

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Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) is a free ecosystem modelling software suite, initially started at NOAA by Jeffrey Polovina, but has since primarily been developed at the UBC Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. In 2007, it was named as one of the ten biggest scientific breakthroughs in NOAA's 200-year history. The NOAA citation states that Ecopath "revolutionized scientists' ability worldwide to understand complex marine ecosystems". Behind this lie more than two decades of development work in association with Villy Christensen, Carl Walters, Daniel Pauly, and other fisheries scientists, followed with the provision of user support, training and co-development collaborations. Per January 2012 there are 6000+ registered users in 150+ countries.


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