Applications and Limitations

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


It has frequently been suggested that numerical ecosystem models should be applied directly to problems of environmental management as a tool for predicting the response of natural systems to perturbations and modifications of various kinds. Our feeling is that while such applications may be instructive, the results must be interpreted with caution and a healthy skepticism. There are, after all, many differences between model systems and real ecosystems. At best, the Narragansett Bay model is designed to represent our current understanding of the bay in its present state as described in Chapter 1. If the natural system is changed in some fundamental way, the conceptual model that lies behind all of the equations and computer programming may no longer apply. As it is presently designed, for example, the model cannot change to different system states that may result from large increases in organic inputs, drastic changes in salinity, anoxic bottom waters, etc. This is not to say that such restructuring cannot be modeled, perhaps even by modifications of the original program. But no model can reasonably be expected to deal with all possibilities, and thus may fall far short of representing or anticipating an event in the natural system.


Standing Crop Zooplankton Population Anoxic Bottom Water Healthy Skepticism Power Plant Construction 
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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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