Friday, 13 November 2009: 2:10 PM
The winds, storm surge, and precipitation from a hurricane create short term environmental changes that may result in increases or decreases in biological production. In coastal marine ecosystems, biologically important environmental factors, such as: nutrients, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity undergo abrupt changes after the passage of a hurricane. These ecosystems provide essential habitat for many commercially important fishery species. Understanding how the passage of a hurricane influences the food source for larval and juvenile fish (i.e., zooplankton) is important for forecasting potential impacts to commercial fishery resources. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable and hazardous nature of hurricanes, it is difficult to collect biological samples during a hurricane event. Through the use of a three compartment "NPZ" (nutrient, phytoplankton, and zooplankton) dynamic numerical model, changes to biological production are simulated relative to presumed changes in environmental factors after a hurricane passage. It is hypothesized that the passage of a hurricane creates conditions that result in an abrupt increase in zooplankton production. Although the model has not been validated, comparisons of uncalibrated and calibrated model simulations with observed zooplankton stocks indicates that the model may underestimate zooplankton production after simulated hurricane events. To improve the forecasting capabilities of the model, additional adjustments to the model parameters may be necessary.
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