Tillman, Dorothy Hamlin (2009-05). Coupling of ecological and water quality models for improved water resource and fish management. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • In recent years new ideas for nutrient management to control eutrophication in estuarine environments have been under consideration. One popular approach being considered in the Chesapeake Bay Program is called the "top down" approach based on the premise that restoring algal predators, such as oysters and menhaden, will limit excess phytoplankton production and possibly eliminate costly nutrient control programs. The approach is being considered to replace or use in conjunction with the "bottom up" approach of reducing nutrient loads. The ability to model higher trophic levels such as fish, as well as the eutrophication processes driving production of primary producers in an aquatic ecosystem is needed. CE-QUAL-ICM (ICM) and Ecopath were two models selected for this research. ICM is a time- and spatial-varying eutrophication model that uses nutrient loads to predict primary producers, while Ecopath is a static mass balance model representing an average time period (e.g., season or year) and uses values of primary producers and other groups to predict fish biomass. Linking the two models will provide the means of going up the food chain by trophic levels. The Chesapeake Bay was chosen as the study site since both models are in use there. Before coupling ICM and Ecopath, common links between the two models were found. Ten groups were identified with such variables as production rates, consumption rates, and unassimilated food/consumption. A post-processor/subroutine was developed for ICM to aggregate output data from 3-D to 0-D to be used in Ecopath. Two Ecopath runs were developed with data from ICM and the Chesapeake Bay (CB) Ecopath model to see how network interactions differed with data representing the same system. Four additional runs were made, creating perturbations (i.e., increased phytoplankton production) using the CB Ecopath model and replacing the primary producers with data from ICM. Final runs of ICM were conducted looking at adjusting three parameters to try to restore the Bay back to 1950 conditions. It was demonstrated that ICM data can be coupled with Ecopath to study management strategies in eutrophication. Because of model formulations there was no data exchange from Ecopath back to ICM.

publication date

  • December 2008