Ecosystem Modeling

The Ecosystem and Ecological Modeling Program develops and hones tools to support ecosystem-based management of the Chesapeake Bay’s natural resources, including fisheries. Mathematical computer-based models that synthesize information about many features of an ecosystem provide

  • Increased understanding of interactions among the components of the Bay’s ecosystems
  • Improved synthesis based on standardized ecosystem data
  • Improved ability to evaluate and adapt ecological monitoring efforts in the region
  • The ability to simulate the outcomes of a range of possible management actions to clarify tradeoffs among the interests of stakeholders

NOAA modeling efforts are geared toward supporting ecosystem-based fisheries management in the Chesapeake Bay. One way this is accomplished is by feeding modeling results to the Fisheries Goal Implementation Team so that resource managers can consider different management options and scenarios. In return, NOAA modeling efforts respond to needs expressed by the Fisheries Goal Implementation Team.

Major modeling efforts include:

  • The Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Ecosystem Model (CBFEM) is a mass-balanced model of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem that focuses on the major Bay fisheries, developed using the Ecopath with Ecosim software.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Regional Estuarine Ecosystem Model (CBREEM) is a biophysical model that uses historical data about physical features, climate, and water quality to produce a 50-year snapshot of primary production in the Bay. The output for this model is used in CBFEM simulations.
  • The Chesapeake Atlantis Model (CAM) is a modular and spatially explicit ecosystem assessment and forecasting model that allows the integration of data from multiple ecosystem components, including climate, tides, currents, nutrients, geology, chemistry, food web interactions, multiple fisheries harvests, other human uses, and economics.
  • The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office works with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and other research institutions on other ecological models. These models examine topics including epidemiological diseases that affect important commercial species in the Bay and economic allocation.
  • A public visualization tool that takes the form of a short, computer-generated video about the Chesapeake Bay’s past, present, and future. It is a first step toward creating educational games that will allow users to operate the CBFEM model to learn about factors influencing the Bay’s ecosystem.