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Wetlands & ecological models

Conceptual model: South Florida

Generic modeling framework

South Florida Landscape Conceptual Model

As E.P. Odum (one of the "fathers" of ecology) put it, an ecosystem is more than the sum of its parts. The ecosystem feedbacks, or interactions, among the physical, chemical, and biological components of the Everglades landscape are fundamental to the dynamics of this complex system. Using a simple framework, we believe that insights into the basic interactive processes aid in better understanding the system behavior as a whole.

The Everglades landscape is a mosaic of different habitats that have evolved under a highly dynamic set of environmental conditions. As with any complex system, interactions among its different components are a fundamental aspect of its operation, and play an important role in sustaining the Everglades.

An analogy: the human body is a complex system that is highly dependent on the proper interactions amongst it's physics (e.g., skeleton, blood flow), chemistry (e.g., nutrients, oxygen), and biology (e.g., organs, growth).

In the Everglade, the physical hydrology, biogeochemical nutrient cycling, and biology of plant & animal communities are determinants of the emergent ecosystem properties that comprise the landscape. Field/lab research and models involve methods to help understand these different "processes" that "drive" the system, providing us with insight into how to best attempt to restore and maintain this dynamic landscape.

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