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Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) ecological model documentation volume 1: Estuarine prey fish biomass availability v1.0.0

October 28, 2011

Estuarine fish serve as an important prey base in the Greater Everglades ecosystem for key fauna such as wading birds, crocodiles, alligators, and piscivorous fishes. Human-made changes to freshwater flow across the Greater Everglades have resulted in less freshwater flow into the fringing estuaries and coasts. These changes in freshwater input have altered salinity patterns and negatively affected primary production of the estuarine fish prey base. Planned restoration projects should affect salinity and water depth both spatially and temporally and result in an increase in appropriate water conditions in areas occupied by estuarine fish. To assist in restoration planning, an ecological model of estuarine prey fish biomass availability was developed as an evaluation tool to aid in the determination of acceptable ranges of salinity and water depth. Comparisons of model output to field data indicate that the model accurately predicts prey biomass in the estuarine regions of the model domain. This model can be used to compare alternative restoration plans and select those that provide suitable conditions.