4D.6 Derivation of a GIS-based watershed-scale conceptual model for the St. Jones River, Delaware from habitat-scale conceptual models

Friday, 13 November 2009: 11:50 AM
Michael A. Reiter, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL; and M. Saintil, Z. Yang, and D. Pokrajac

Conceptual modeling is a useful tool for identifying pathways between drivers, stressors, Valued Ecosystem Components (VECs), and services that are central to understanding how an ecosystem operates. The St. Jones River watershed, DE is a complex coastal ecosystem, and because management decisions must include ecological, social, political, and economic considerations, a conceptual model is a good tool for accommodating the full range of inputs. In 2002, a Four-Component, Level 1 conceptual model was formed for the key habitats of the St. Jones River watershed, but since the habitat level of resolution is too fine for some important watershed-scale issues we developed a functional watershed-scale model using the existing narrowed habitat-scale models. The narrowed habitat-scale conceptual models and associated matrices were combined with data from the 2002 land use/land cover GIS-based maps of Kent County DE to assemble a diagrammatic and numerical watershed-scale conceptual model incorporating the calculated weight of each habitat within the watershed. The numerical component of the assembled watershed model was subsequently subjected to the same Monte Carlo narrowing methodology used for the habitat versions to refine the diagrammatic component of the watershed-scale model. The narrowed numerical representation of the model was used to generate forecasts for changes in the parameters "Agriculture" and "Forest", showing that land use changes in these habitats propagated through the results of the model by the weighting factor. Also, the narrowed watershed-scale conceptual model identified some key parameters upon which to focus research attention and management decisions at the watershed scale. The forecast and simulation results seemed to indicate that the watershed-scale conceptual model does lead to different conclusions than the habitat-scale conceptual models for some issues at the larger watershed scale.
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