Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Loss of seagrass-dominated ecosystems worldwide has been attributed to anthropogenic modifications of watersheds; in response, proper management of these systems has become a priority. In this paper, sensitivity analysis and comparison of model predictions to field observations identified conditions under which a subtropical to tropical seagrass ecosystem model would be a useful management tool. Sensitivity analysis indicated that under low-nutrient conditions, physical factors such as temperature, light, and salinity controlled model predictions of seagrass and epiphyte biomass, but that when nutrients were abundant (5 mu mol/L sediment pore water P; 10 mu mol/L water column P) control shifted to biological interactions. This analysis suggests that important areas for future research include formulations for biomass-dependent productivity (e.g., competition for nutrients or light) and the effects of altered nutrients on epiphyte productivity and shading. Model predictions matched the seasonal abundance of seagrasses measured in three distinct seagrass communities in Biscayne Bay, Florida, suggesting that in its present form the model could be useful to managers to run ''what-if'' scenarios in order to make Long-term decisions about upstream water management practices, including allowable nutrients and freshwater diversion. These management decisions are currently being considered without the benefit of a model.
ecosystem model; Florida; model validation; predictive capability; seagrass
Copyright by the Ecological Society of America
Fong, P; Jacobson, ME; Mescher, MC; Lirman, D; and Harwell, MC, Investigating the management potential of a seagrass model through sensitivity analysis and experiments (1997). Ecological Applications, 7(1), 300-315.