Sensitivity and Stability

  • James N. Kremer
  • Scott W. Nixon
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 24)


Of the many coefficients and parameters used to specify rates and interactions in the Narragansett Bay model, few, if any, may be assigned a numerical value with a high degree of certainty. While Narragansett Bay is one of the most intensively studied estuaries in the world, numerous critical details about the bay system and the functioning of its components are not yet available. Thus, it was often necessary to draw on literature from more or less distantly related systems. Unfortunately, there is a wide range in many of the measurements that have been reported (e.g., see Table 8). This uncertainty is not unexpected if one considers the large amount of biological, spatial, and temporal variability that is characteristic of natural systems. In addition, there are numerous technical difficulties that one encounters when trying to assess biological processes in the laboratory or in the field. For these reasons, the choice of any one value for a coefficient may be questioned. While we have tried to provide reasonable justification for the values used in the standard run of the Narragansett Bay model, we were also curious to find out how sensitive the simulation was to those particular choices. The process of varying coefficients, forcing functions, initial conditions or certain aspects of the computer program not only provides insight into the behavior of the model, but into the more complex natural system as well. It also serves as a crucial feedback loop in suggesting sensitive areas where additional research is needed. In theory, it may also discourage the collection of redundant or peripheral data.


Maximum Growth Rate Light Input Zooplankton Population Complex Natural System West Passage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • James N. Kremer
    • 1
  • Scott W. Nixon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of OceanographyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA

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