Virtual Ecosystem Scenario Viewer (VES-V) – Software for Visualizing the Results of Ecosystem Modelling Outputs

Successfully managing and recovering marine species in today’s busy ocean requires us to understand the entire ecosystem and the suite of impacts on their survival, rather than considering just one species at a time. NOAA Fisheries is using sophisticated ecosystem modeling tools, coupled with input from stakeholders, to explore the tradeoffs inherent in natural resource management decisions. The models incorporate classic population biology and a range of climate, environmental, ecological and human impacts to the ocean. These models, which are relied on by our scientists and managers, provide essential data for making well informed decisions. However, the complexity that makes the models robust can also limit the ability of many audiences to understand and use the information provided. The underlying dynamics of these models are complex, and a new tool aims to show the results of those dynamics in an easy-to-view manner.

To address the concerns noted above, NOAA Fisheries has released a new, innovative software program called Virtual Ecosystem Scenario Viewer (VES-V). VES-V visually illustrates the responses of virtual marine ecosystems to a range of living marine resource management scenarios. Visualizations can help many audiences see the potential for widespread application of models in our work managing marine resources. This tool will facilitate stakeholder engagement and input for exploring future tradeoff scenarios in marine resources management decisions for our nation’s large marine ecosystems.

The main purpose of this tool is to demonstrate how we can better present and visualize marine ecosystems, their marine resources, and their collective responses to a range of disruptions. VES-V can be directly linked to and utilize output files from ecosystem models such as Atlantis, MS-PROD, or EwE to explore different marine management scenarios. VES-V is designed to handle a wide range of model outputs and data, such that survey time series or even multiple stock assessment outputs could also be used to explore this virtual ocean world.

Although the results provided here have been published and reviewed, they are not intended for tactical management decision-making. Rather, these results are intended to describe in general terms what might happen to an entire system of species across a range of different options, conditions, and scenarios.

As we continue to develop this tool, we solicit your input. For example, if you have ideas on how to make VES-V better, what scenarios we should run, or feedback on how we can better present the dynamics of living marine resources in our shared ecosystems, please let us know. Please direct any comments to:

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Download VES-V here:

To install the program, download the appropriate VES-V software package from above, which is a zipped folder. Open the zipped folder and click on the “Organize” menu tab at the top of the screen, and then click on “Select All” files. Once the files are highlighted, click on the “Home” menu tab at the top of screen and click “Extract Files.” Select a location to extract the files to on your computer (e.g., an empty folder on your Desktop, My Documents, etc.) and click the “Extract” button at the bottom of the screen. To start the program, go to the folder the data was extracted to, and click on the file named “NOAA_VES-V_v118” (the file name has a NOAA logo, and does not end with Data or Docs).