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Fakultät Forst- Geo- und Hydrowissenschaften - Fachrichtung Wasserwesen - Institut für Hydrobiologie

SALMO - An Ecological Model for Lakes and Reservoirs


SALMO (Simulation by an Analytical Lake Model, Benndorf 1979) is a dynamic ecological model that simulates the most important pelagic food-web compartments of lakes and reservoirs. Its state variables are soluble reactive phosphorus, anorganic nitrogen, two or more functional phytoplankton groups, zooplankton, oxygen and detritus. Recent versions have additional state variables for suspended particles and humic substances. Important other mechanisms (e.g. predation by fish or sediment-water interactions) are also included by rate equations. With the exception of three lake specific parameters, all other parameters are considered general constants, which are widely applicable to lakes and reservoirs of different trophic state.

The two-box-version SALMO-2 is a spatially aggregated model with two horizontal layers (epilimnion and hypolimnion) and a variable mixing depth. If horizontal exchange rates are available (e.g. from a 3D hydrodynamic model) multiple horizontal compartments can be combined. The model can be used within scenario analysis applications for decision making and as a research tool.

SALMO-1D and SALMO-HR are vertically resolved 1D versions. The ecological part is called SALMO-1D and the hydrodynamic-ecological coupled model is called SALMO-HR.

Schematic representation of

Simplified schematic representation of the two-layer version SALMO-2. Recent versions have more layers and contain additional state variables, but follow the same general principles.

General Model Information


The first version was developed by Jürgen Benndorf (system of equations and parametrization) and Friedrich Recknagel (implementation, sensitivity analysis) at TU Dresden in the 1980ties. Since then, many people contributed to the knowledge behind the model and its code. We are especially grateful to our collaborators from TU Ilmenau for the complete reimplementation of the original system of equations (JAVA version, Planke et al, 1997) and to Susanne Rolinski (cf. Rolinski 2005) for the generalization of the code, porting it to the C language, coupling with the hydrophysical model LAKE (Baumert, 2005) and extending the number of state variables.


The current version is maintained by Thomas Petzoldt, Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Hydrobiologie http://tu-dresden.de/Members/thomas.petzoldt.


The versions of SALMO contained at this page are developed and maintained at TU Dresden. Their equations and parameters are derived by limnological expertise. Other forks and special versions for specific purposes (e.g. heavy calibration of parameters) are not considered here.


Model Overview (in German)

Baumert HZ, Benndorf J, Bigalke K, Goldmann D, Nöhren I, Petzoldt T, Post J, Rolinski S (2005) Das hydrophysikalisch ökologische Talsperren- und Seenmodel SALMO-HR –  Modelldokumentation und Leitfaden für den Anwender. Dresden. pdf, open access.

References and Selection of Case Studies

Baumert, H.Z. & Benndorf, J. (2005): Einführung in das GETAS-Projekt. Wasserwirtschaft 95: 10-12.

Benndorf, J., 1979: Kausalanalyse, theoretische Synthese und Simulation des Eutrophierungsprozesses in stehenden und gestauten Gewässern. Habilitationsschrift, TU Dresden, Fakultät Bau-, Wasser- und Forstwesen.

Benndorf, J. & Recknagel, F. (1982): Problems of application of the ecological model SALMO to lakes and reservoirs having various trophic states. Ecol. Model. 17: 129-145.

Benndorf, J., Koschel, R. & Recknagel, F. (1985): The pelagic zone of Lake Stechlin. An approach to a theoretical model. In: J. Casper (ed.) Lake Stechlin. A temperate oligotrophic lake, Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, Lancaster, pp. 433-453.

Benndorf, J., Petzoldt, T. & Pütz, K. (1999): Prognose der Wasserbeschaffenheit von Talsperren und die Wechselbeziehungen zur Wassermengenbewirtschaftung. In: Trinkwasserversorgung aus Talsperren. ATT Schriftenreihe; Bd. 1, Oldenbourg Industrieverlag, 421-438.

Horn, W. & Benndorf, J. (1980): Field investigations and model simulations of the dynamics of zooplankton populations in fresh waters. Int. Revue ges. Hydrobiol. 65: 209-222.

König, M., Rinke, K., Bigalke, K., Paul, L. & Post, J. (2005): Erfassung biologischer, hydrophysikalischer und meteorologischer Prozesse im Freiland. Wasserwirtschaft 95: 13-17.

König-Rinke, M.R. (2008): Bildung funktioneller Typgruppen des Phytoplanktons: Integration von Modell-, Freiland - und Laborarbeiten. Dissertation, Fakultät Forst-, Geo- und Hydrowissenschaften, TU Dresden. pdf, open access

Koschel, R., Benndorf, J., Proft, G. & Recknagel, F. (1983): Calcite precipitation as a natural control mechanism of eutrophication. Arch. Hydrobiol. 98: 380-408.

Mooij, W.M., Trolle, D., Jeppensen, E., Arhonditsis, G., Belolipetsky, P.V., Chitamwebwa, B.R., Degermendzhy, A.G., DeAngelis, D.L., De Senerpont Domis, L.N., Downing, A.S., Elliott, J.A., Fragoso Jr., C.R., Gaedke, U., Genova, S.N., Gulati, R.D., Hakanson, L., Hamilton, D.P., Hipsey, M.R., 't Hoen, J., Hülsmann, S., Los, F.J., Makler-Pick, V., Petzoldt, T., Prokopkin, I.G., Rinke, K., Schep, S.A., Tominaga, K., Van Dam, A.A., Van Nes, E.H., Wells, S.A. & Janse, J.H. (2010): Challenges and opportunities for integrating lake ecosystem modelling approaches. Aquat. Ecol. 44(3), 633-667. pdf, open access

Petzoldt, T. & Siemens, K. (2002): Nutzung eines ökologischen Simulationsmodells im Entscheidungsfindungsprozess: Anwendung des Modells SALMO auf die Talsperre Bautzen. Wasser und Boden 54(9), 42-48.

Petzoldt, T. (2004): Defizite und Möglichkeiten bei der Entwicklung und Anwendung von Standgewässergütemodellen. In: Flussgebietsbewirtschaftung - quo vadis Modellierung. Workshop, November 2003, Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde, Koblenz, pp. 212-225.

Petzoldt, T., Peters, R., Wetzel, M. & Siemens, K. (2004): Ableitung von Standgewässer-Gütemodulen für ein Flussgebietsmodell. Ein prototypischer Ansatz am Beispiel der Talsperren Bautzen und Quitzdorf. In: A. Bronstert et al. (ed.) Wasser und Stofftransport in heterogenen Einzugsgebieten. Beiträge zum Tag der Hydrologie 2004, 22./23. März in Potsdam, pp. 255-263.

Petzoldt, T., Rolinski, S., Rinke, K., König, M., Baumert, H.Z. & Benndorf, J. (2005): SALMO: Die ökologische Komponente des gekoppelten Modells. Wasserwirtschaft 95: 28-33.

Petzoldt, T. & Uhlmann, D. (2006): Nitrogen emissions into freshwater ecosystems: Is there a need for nitrate elimination in all wastewater treatment plants? Acta Hydrochimica et Hydrobiologica 34: 305-324. pdf (requires subscription)

Planke, H., Dietze, S. & Benndorf, J. (1997): Modellierung aquatischer Ökosysteme zum Zwecke der Bewirtschaftung. Technische Universität Ilmenau, Tagungsband des 42. Internationalen Wissenschaftlichen Kolloquiums "Informatik und Automatisierung im Zeitalter der Informationsgesellschaft" 3, 267-272.

Recknagel, F. & Benndorf, J. (1982): Validation of the ecological simulation model "SALMO". Int. Revue ges. Hydrobiol. 67: 113-125.

Recknagel, F. (1984): A comprehensive sensitivity analysis for an ecological simulation model. Ecol. Model. 26: 77-96.

Reichert, P. & Mieleitner, J. (2008): Lake Models In: Jørgensen, S. E. & Fath, B. D. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Ecology, Vol. 3, Ecological Models, Elsevier, p. 2068-2080.

Rolinski, S., Petzoldt, T., Baumert, H.Z., Bigalke, K., Horn, H. & Benndorf, J. (2005): Das physikalisch-ökologisch gekoppelte Talsperrenmodell. Wasserwirtschaft 95: 34-38.

Rolinski,S.; Petzoldt,T.; Benndorf,J. (2007): Nutrients, weather, food web: What we need to model throphic change?
in: Schauser,I.; Strube,T. (eds.): Proceedings of the Workshop Perspectives of lake modelling towards predicting reaction to trophic change, Berlin, November 8th and 9th, 2007, p. 30-37.  pdf, open access

Siemens, Katja (2009) Entwicklung eines aggregierten Modells zur Simulation der Gewässergüte in Talsperren als Baustein eines Flussgebietsmodells. Dissertation, Fakultät Forst-, Geo- und Hydrowissenschaften, TU Dresden. pdf, open access

Sachse, R.; Petzoldt, T.; Blumstock, M.; Moreira, S.; Pätzig, M.; Rücker, J.; Janse, J. H.; Mooij, W. M. and Hilt, S. (2014): Extending one-dimensional models for deep lakes to simulate the impact of submerged macrophytes on water quality. Environmental Modelling and Software, 61, 410-423. Abstract/PDF

Willmitzer, H., H. Planke and K. Hövel, 1998: Einsatz des Simulationsmodells SALMO für die Bewirtschaftung von Trinkwassertalsperren. gwf - Wasser - Abwasser - ATT Special 139: 42-46.

License and Applications

The recent development version is available according to the Gnu Public License (GPL 2) from http://rlimnolab.r-forge.r-project.org/ It is an ongoing project that still contains inconsistencies, workarounds and bugs. In case of interest please send an e-mail to thomas.petzoldt@tu-dresden.de

Old versions were not freely available, but free scientific use was always possible within collaborative research projects.

Commercial SALMO applications with the "good old and stable" version are available as part of limnological studies from IDUS GmbH (http://www.idus.de).

Selected Finished Projects



The recent developments where funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with grants FKZ:02WT0233 (Getas), FKZ:02WT0720 (IntegTA), FKZ:033L041E (NITROLIMIT) and by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft within the AQUASHIFT priority program (DFG Pa 1202/1-2,3).

Aquashift DFG Getas Nitrolimit BMBF

2015-02-10, ThPe