R. A. Vollenweider applied the principle of parsimony to develop models of lake trophic state that cut through the considerable complexities of lake ecosystems. Based on the mass balance of phosphorus, these models reduced the complex aquatic biogeochemistry of phosphorus to a single term that accounted for the loss of phosphorus to lake sediments. Simple as they were, the models were highly predictive as was first convincingly demonstrated by the recovery trajectory of Lake Washington. Subsequently, Volledweider's approach was demonstrated to be sufficiently robust to span the latitudes from temperate to tropical regions and to span the freshwater to saltwater continuum. Vollenweider was a pioneer in predictive ecology and among the first to demonstrate that simple, robust, and understandable models can provide the basis for sound ecosystem management.

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