Pre-print of Vanclay, JK & Skovsgaard, JP 1997, 'Evaluating forest growth models', Ecological Modelling, vol. 98, no. 1, pp. 1-12.
Ecological Modelling home page available at www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolmodel
Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3800(96)01932-1
Effective model evaluation is not a single, simple procedure, but comprises several interrelated steps that cannot be separated from each other or from the purpose and process of model construction. We draw attention to several statistical and graphical procedures that may assist in model calibration and evaluation, with special emphasis on those useful in forest growth modelling. We propose a five-step framework to examine logic and bio-logic, statistical properties, characteristics of errors, residuals, and sensitivity analyses. Empirical evaluations may be made with data used in fitting the model, and with additional data not previously used. We emphasize that the validity of conclusions drawn from all these assessments depends on the validity of assumptions underlying both the model and the evaluation. These principles should be kept in mind throughout model construction and evaluation.