Ecosystem modeling

Ecosystem modeling is an essential research and management tool for understanding ecosystem processes and evaluating restoration strategies, and is often used in conjunction with monitoring as an important assessment vehicle. Modeling is inherently interdisciplinary, involving scientists, engineers, and computational experts working together to develop tools to address specific scientific and management questions. Development of modeling approaches that appropriately represent multiple ecosystem variables and combine them into integrated trajectory representations is recognized as a critical research need.

Previous work by multidisciplinary teams at UB has emphasized the development of sophisticated hydrodynamic and water quality models for surface water and groundwater systems in an uncoupled fashion. New projects under development will extend these models, which emphasize physical/chemical interactions, to: (a) simulate systems with more complex process-level integration, particularly for biological/ecological components, (b) simulate multi-media interactions between land, groundwater, and surface water systems, and (c) address whole-ecosystem applications at increasingly larger scales, including regional (watershed), supra-regional (multiple watershed), and (eventually) the entire Great Lakes basin. ERIE’s modeling research benefits from a close partnership with UB’s Center for Computational Research, a leading academic high-performance computing and visualization center that supports “grand challenge” research by enabling long-term simulations with highly detailed temporal, spatial, and process resolution, and the National Center for Geographic Information Analysis, which supports leading-edge research in Geographic Information Science, a core component of modeling efforts involving large amounts of spatial data.