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Bridging the gulf between ecologists and engineers

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This presentation discusses potential ways of making environmental risk assessments within an integrated model that links physical and ecological models. It is based on the discussions at a workshop held at Setauket, New York, and attended by scientists from Waterways Experiment Station of the Army Corps of Engineers (Vicksburg, MS), Applied Biomathematics (Setauket, NY), Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, CA) and New York Sea Grant (Stony Brook, NY).

The goal of the workshop was to discuss the modeling needs for addressing ecosystem-level questions. In the past, such questions usually emphasized physical or chemical phenomena. Typical issues addressed in modeling exercises focused on concerns about water quality. Recently, these issues have been more and more commonly replaced by questions about biological populations and communities. For example, concerns are now expressed about the risk of zebra mussel invasion, the decline of endangered or economically or ecologically important species, and other issues related to the sustainability of ecological systems.

The development of “living resource” models that can address such questions requires integrating currently existing models that focus on different aspects of ecosystems. In particular, this presentation is concerned with how a two-way linkage between the physical/chemical and ecological models can be constructed. These models usually have disparate scales, precisions and concerns, and report the results in incommensurate terms. This presentation summarizes current modeling approaches that could form the basis for integration and considers the desired attributes and features of an ideal integrated model. It presents a roadmap for research that can guide future development toward this goal and outlines a series of approaches that would identify progress in this direction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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