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A simple framework for animal energy budgets

About the Book

Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory is a powerful framework for the energetics of organisms over their life cycle. It explains how organisms acquire resources from their environment, and how they subsequently use them to maintain themselves, grow, develop and reproduce. A quantitative energy budget is an extremely useful tool for a wide range of scientific questions in (applied) biology. DEBkiss represents a simplified model derived from DEB theory, focussing on animal life cycles (mainly invertebrates and fish). This simplification is easy to understand, and easy to apply. However, it is still powerful enough to address the dominant features of animal's life history. A list of scientific DEBkiss publications can be found at the DEBtox information site.

This book is a reshuffled and extended version of our scientific paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. This book combines the paper and its supporting information in a different format, and I have added sub-models to this book (and will add more as developments go on and DEBkiss continues to evolve and expand). If you are new to energy budgets, and want some more background, I strongly advice you to start by reading in my e-book "Making sense of chemical stress", which can also be downloaded from Leanpub. That book provides a math-free conceptual introduction, whereas I here immediately include the math (although it is pretty basic stuff, if you are accustomed to ordinary differential equations).

Important note: This e-book's contents are not so crystallised as the "Making sense" e-book. Especially Chapter 4-6 are more reference than reading material. However, I think it is important to make this material available at this point, and I hope to be able to polish and embellish the text in the future. Your support by downloading/buying this book will be my motivation.

Support page at (includes the version log)

About the Author

Tjalling Jager
Tjalling Jager

Mechanistic modelling is still an under-utilised tool in ecotoxicology and stress ecology. It is my passion to promote these models through (applied) scientific projects, providing software solutions, teaching in courses, presentations at conferences, and through writing e-books. The models that I specialise in are so-called toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic (TKTD) models; in particular, models for survival (the GUTS framework) and sublethal effects (based on Dynamic Energy Budget - DEB - theory). These models are based on a rigorous simplification of biological complexity, and have the power to explain (and predict) life-history traits of organisms (e.g., growth, reproduction and survival) over time. Especially when considering exposure to stressors, such dynamic models are indispensable to make sense of the data.

I hold an MSc and PhD in Biology, and have been a professional modeller since 1992, working almost exclusively on DEB- and GUTS-based TKTD modelling since 2002. Currently, I run my own private company 'DEBtox Research', offering my expertise to clients from industry, contract laboratories, and universities.

More information about Tjalling at DEBtox Research

More information about DEB(tox) and GUTS models

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Theoretical: the core model

3. Case study: pond snail

4. Model extensions

5. Toxicants, uptake and effects

6. Practical models for toxic effects

7. Discussion


App. A. Derivations

App. B. Checking the stylised facts

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