Throughout its history, FCE has emphasized integrative synthesis and modeling efforts, becoming a clearinghouse for hydrodynamic, socio-ecological, and ecosystem models that have helped synthesize our empirical findings and formulate new hypotheses. Researchers generated and catalogued a variety of models available for use in assessing hydrological, ecological, and social dynamics in the FCE region. Depending on the goals, the model domains range from site-specific (points) to spatially distributed models exceeding 10,000 km2, with temporal domains ranging from weeks to decades or a century. A brief overview of each model and primary results is found in the "Models" tab.
Simple water-budget models and more complex hydrodynamic models have been used to synthesize FCE hydrological findings, linking field data and model results to demonstrate the importance of groundwater contributions to surface-water flows in FCE habitats, including surface-water discharges to estuaries. To explicitly evaluate surface and groundwater interactions, application of the variable-density groundwater flow model SUTRA-MS enhanced our understanding of the significant influence of groundwater discharge in water and nutrient budgets. For local-scale surface water hydrology, a Lattice-Boltzman model is exploring surface-water flows at very fine spatial resolution in ridge and slough habitats based on results from large-scale tracer studies.
Generally, such improvements in our understanding of fine-scale hydrologic processes has enhanced the simpler hydrologic algorithms of an integrated hydro-ecological landscape model (ELM), using the results from local-scale models to refine the landscape model performance, extrapolating that understanding across the broader spatio-temporal scales of the greater Everglades region.
Nutrient budget and simple process-oriented models have led to a better understanding of the dynamics of DOM, P, and N along nutrient gradients in the freshwater Everglades, based upon the multi-disciplinary studies along the FCE transects. Within the mangrove habitats, a suite of linked hydrologic, biogeochemical, and community models are tightly integrated with continuing ecosystem monitoring and experiments, which have advanced our insights into soil and mangrove dynamics under a range of hydrologic, nutrient, and salinity regimes - essential to our understanding shifts in the oligohaline ecotone. Interactions among seagrass species, phytoplankton, and soil/water column nutrients were simulated with a Florida Bay seagrass community model that is applied to multiple sites, with that SEACOM model being integral to ongoing Florida Bay ecosystem experiments and monitoring. Finally, as in the case for hydrologic processes, some of the "lessons learned" from site- and process- specific ecological models in the freshwater and mangrove habitats have been assimilated into improvements of the landscape model (ELM), which we have also used as a broader framework model to provide boundary condition phosphorus inputs to the Florida Bay SEACOM model.
For consumer modeling, fish movements across a freshwater landscape have been simulated in response to water level fluctuations, with ongoing refinements of that model based on new field data. Models of fish movements, and statistical models that predict wading bird prey densities, allowed us to explore the interactions of these animals with available habitats and water levels. We also calibrated a land-use change model to forecast the consequences of urban growth in South Florida. A major contribution of FCE modelers to the South Florida research community is a synthesis of the diverse modeling tools available for this ecosystem (Onsted et al., in review), providing a blueprint for addressing holistic questions about how the South Florida socio-ecological system responds to change across multiple spatio-temporal scales.