Analyze real ecosystems via their digital twins
Explore the ecological consequences of human interventions at the planning stage


Ecotwin is an open-source agent-based ecosystem simulator that runs on the game engine Unity. It includes models of inanimate objects like mountains and lakes, and living objects like animals and plants. Features of Ecotwin include:

  • Three-dimensional terrain models

  • Terrestrial and marine ecosystems

  • Generic models of animals and plants

  • Genotypes and phenotypes

  • Sexual and asexual reproduction

  • Sexual reproduction based on physical encounters

  • Nervous systems modeled by multiple neural networks

  • Individual and lifelong reinforcement learning

  • Generic model of reward

  • Positive and negative reflexes

Our latest publications:

Exploring local effects of economic activities using agent-based ecosystem models (Jan 2023)

Ecosystem Models Based on Artificial Intelligence (July 2022)

Source code (open source)





Biology only offers partial insights into the mechanisms that govern ecosystem development. Thus, the ecosystem models that we have today are necessarily far from perfect. Nevertheless, relatively realistic ecosystem models might contribute substantially to sustainable decision-making. Potential uses of such ecosystem models include:

  • Consequence analysis of human interventions in real ecosystems via fishing, forestry, agriculture, and urbanization

  • Theoretical biology, including evolution and ethology

  • Game theory and behavioral economics

  • Video games

  • Robotics

The goal of the Ecotwin project is to build a relatively realistic ecosystem simulator by including several features of ecosystem development that are sometimes omitted in other ecosystem simulators.  In particular Ecotwin includes terrain models, genetic models, and behavioral models.


Lotka-Volterra dynamics

An ecosystem with grass, deer, and wolves. The population curves follow the cyclic pattern known from the three-species Lotka-Volterra equations.

Diel vertical migration

An ecosystem with phytoplankton, copepods, and krill. The copepods follow a pattern of diel vertical migration. At night they forage near the surface and in the daytime they move to greater depths where there are fewer predators.

Evolution of reflexes

An ecosystem with sexually reproducing goats and grass of different colors. Reflexes that prevent the goats from eating grass of certain colors can arise via mutation. Goats with reflexes for avoiding lethal grass eventually dominate the population.


You may want to download Ecotwin and try some ready-made examples, design your own ecosystem, or model a real ecosystem.
The Ecotwin project relies on crowd creation. Please contact us if you want to join our team and help develop the next generation of Ecotwin!
We are open to academic cooperation projects at the MSc, PhD, and post-doc levels.