Abstract A three-dimensional ecosystem model for the North Sea which includes competition between Pseudocalanus elongatus and the rest of the zooplankton biomass was applied to describe the seasonal cycle of zooplankton in 2003–2004. The paper presents the comparison of simulated stage-resolved abundances with copepod counts at several stations in the German Bight during the GLOBEC-Germany project from February to October 2004. A validation of influential state variables gives confidence that the model is able to calculate reliably the stage development and abundances of P. elongatus as well as the range of bulk zooplankton biomass, and thus the ratio of population biomass to total biomass. In the German Bight, the population is below 20% in spring. The ratio increases up to 50% during summer. The number of generations was estimated from peaks in egg abundance to about 4–8 generations of P. elongatus in the southern North Sea. A mean of four generations per year were estimated in the central North Sea, six to eight generations northwest of the Dogger Bank (tails end) and five generations in the German Bight.