Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research
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Modeling and Synthesis Cross-Cutting Theme
(Phase II, 2007-2012)


A variety of models are available for our use in assessing hydrological, ecological, and social dynamics in the FCE region. Depending on the goals, the model domains range from site-specific (points) to spatially distributed models exceeding 10,000 km2, with temporal domains ranging from weeks to decades or a century.

A brief overview of each model and primary results is found in the "Models" tab, while below we summarize the relationships among model results to date.

Model results - relationships
We first consider the hydrologic underpinnings of the intensively managed system in south Florida, with water flows being one of the common "currencies" used in understanding relationships among FCE transects. Simple water-budget models (Zapata-Rios, 2009; Saha et al., in review) and more complex hydrodynamic models (Michot et al., 2011) have been used to synthesize FCE findings, linking field data and model results to demonstrate the importance of groundwater contributions to surface-water flows in FCE habitats, including surface-water discharges to estuaries. To explicitly evaluate surface and groundwater interactions, application of the variable-density groundwater flow model SUTRA-MS (Hughes and Sanford, 2005; Spence, 2011) enhanced our understanding of the significant influence of groundwater discharge in water and nutrient budgets. For local-scale surface water hydrology, a Lattice-Boltzman model is exploring surface-water flows at very fine spatial resolution in ridge and slough habitats (e.g., Anwar and Sukop, 2009), based on results from large-scale tracer studies (Ho et al., 2009). Generally, such improvements in our understanding of fine-scale hydrologic processes has enhanced the simpler hydrologic algorithms of an integrated hydro-ecological landscape model (ELM) (Fitz, 2009; Fitz et al., 2011), using the results from local-scale models to refine the landscape model performance, extrapolating that understanding across the broader spatio-temporal scales of the greater Everglades region.

Those models provided hydrologic forcings to support ecological analyses. As with the hydrologic component, simple tools were a fundamental part of our ecological model-data synthesis, which we illustrate with examples from locations along the freshwater-estuarine gradient. Budget and simple process-oriented models (Noe and Childers, 2007; Saunders et al., in prep) have led to a better understanding of the dynamics of DOM, P, and N along nutrient gradients in the freshwater Everglades, based upon the multi-disciplinary studies along the FCE transects. Using parallel long-term FCE research in these and other locations (Gaiser, 2009), we developed a model of periphyton responses to changing P and water levels, with periphyton serving as a fundamental basis of the consumer food web. For consumer modeling, fish movements across a freshwater landscape have been simulated in response to water level fluctuations (Jopp et al., 2010), with ongoing refinements of that model based on new field data (Obaza et al., 2011). Models of fish movements, and statistical models that predict wading bird prey densities (Trexler and Goss, 2009), allowed us to explore the interactions of these animals with available habitats and water levels.

Within the mangrove habitats, a suite of linked hydrologic, biogeochemical, and community models (Twilley and Rivera-Monroy, 2005; 2009) are tightly integrated with continuing ecosystem monitoring and experiments, which have advanced our insights into soil and mangrove dynamics under a range of hydrologic, nutrient, and salinity regimes - essential to our understanding shifts in the oligohaline ecotone. Interactions among seagrass species, phytoplankton, and soil/water column nutrients were simulated with a Florida Bay seagrass community model (Madden et al., 2007; Madden, in press) that is applied to multiple sites, with that SEACOM model being integral to ongoing Florida Bay ecosystem experiments and monitoring. Finally, as in the case for hydrologic processes, some of the "lessons learned" from site- and process- specific ecological models in the freshwater and mangrove habitats have been assimilated into improvements of the landscape model (ELM), which we have also used as a broader framework model to provide boundary condition phosphorus inputs to the Florida Bay SEACOM model.

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National Science Foundation logo This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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