Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

6-2006

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Ph.D. Oceanography/Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Frank J. Mazzotti

Second Advisor

Andrew Rogerson

Third Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Fourth Advisor

G. Ronnie Best

Fifth Advisor

Donald L. DeAngelis

Abstract

Ecosystem restoration and management seek to repair, improve, or maintain a suite of desired environmental conditions for a specific ecosystem. However, when working on complex ecosystems, where do you start and how can you tell when you are successful? Forecasting ecological effects of restoration scenarios provides a basis for project evaluation and selection of restoration alternatives. Ecological monitoring is essential for assessing ecosystem condition over time. In an integrated approach to adaptive management a forecasting model simulates system response and is validated by monitoring programs to measure actual system response. Monitoring can then feed back as a passive adaptive management tool to modify restoration or management plans. Directed research driven by uncertainties in models and ecosystem response is an active adaptive management strategy for learning and provides a basis to calibrate models. Since all components of an ecosystem cannot be modeled or monitored effectively, scientists and managers rely heavily on ecological indicators to reveal information about ecosystem status and trends. As a result, modeling and monitoring programs focus on indicators that maximize information on ecosystem patterns and processes while minimizing cost and effort. InSouthwest Florida, conceptual ecological models were constructed to support the framework of an applied science strategy by identifying indicators for estuarine ecosystem assessment and evaluation. Forecasting models were created as a set of stressor response (habitat suitability) models for individual species and incorporated into a spatially explicit decision support system to guide selection of the most beneficial restoration alternative.

Comments

Funding provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES) Initiative administered through the University of Florida.

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