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publications > paper > PP 1011 > south florida as a regional system > ecosystem models
South Florida as a regional system of man and nature
Ecosystem models as an approach to resource management
Systems ecology and ecological modeling concepts were used in the south Florida study to evaluate environmental problems (Lugo and others, 1971, 1973; Bayley and Odum, 1971; and Carter and others, 1973). Most of the ecological models presented in this report are qualitative. However, in phase 2 of the study, being done by the University of Florida's Center for Wetlands, quantitative data are used in the models to predict changes in the systems under different management alternatives.
South Florida is a large and complex mixture of subsystems
influenced to varying degrees by man. The subsystems interconnect by energy
pathways and form a regional ecosystem as shown in figure 4. The energy sources that drive the system include sun, rain, wind, waves, tides, freshwater, nutrients,
fossil fuel, food, manufactured goods, people, and capital. The energy-fixing
components (organic producers) include the plant biomass in the Big Cypress
Swamp, the Everglades, the mangroves, the estuaries, reefs, and bays and on the
agricultural land. Consumers, which convert this biomass into food and which
also transform natural energy into power or capital, include wildlife,
tourists, residents, machines, buildings, and others. The energy-fixing systems
are linked to and provide the basic support for the urban system. The urban and
the agricultural systems, however, are highly subsidized by and dependent on
fossil fuels and fossil-fuel products.
A model of the regional ecosystem, such as that shown in figure 4, provides an overview and can help in identifying deficiencies in the information needed for formulating specific land-use recommendations, but it lacks the detail and quantification needed for resource planning and decisions. By breaking down the regional ecosystem into subsystems, more detail is provided. In this report the regional ecosystem is divided as follows:
Freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems:
Canals and lakes
Because of the special importance of water in south Florida, a separate section of this report devoted to hydrologic systems discusses problems concerning water quantity and quality.
To be most useful in resource management, systems models should be quantitative; they not only should show relationships between energy sources, storages, producers, and consumers but should show the magnitude of these relationships as well. For example, computer simulation of a sawgrass marsh model indicated that high inputs of phosphorus would result in increased transpiration and fires in the marsh (Bayley and Odum, 1971). As part of the south Florida study, quantitative data on the regional ecosystem are being amassed by a team at the University of Florida's Center for Wetlands. With these data and with the models developed in this study, computer simulation will be used to predict the effects of various management alternatives on the south Florida ecosystem.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:04 PM (KP)
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