The Complexity of Modeling Stream Ecosystems

Tuesday, September 10, 2013: 8:20 AM
Harris Brake (The Marriott Little Rock)
Jack Webster , Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
The evolution of vascular plants was a major change to terrestrial ecosystems, but it also had profound effects on streams that flow from these ecosystems.  The leaves that fall into stream provide a food source for many organisms, and they also have a significant influence on nutrient dynamics.  Various models of the interaction between leaf decay and nutrients in streams have been developed over the past 40 years.  The early models were very simple, but they were easily analyzed.  Over the years, the models have become more and more complex, but are they more useful?  Balancing simplicity and more complex reality is always a challenge to ecological modeling.