Assessing Ecosystem Modeling

Full Title: Ecosystem modeling efforts in the Gulf of Mexico: current status and future needs to address management and restoration activities

This project will conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of ecosystem modeling efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Team: James Simons (Lead Investigator, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi,, Elizabeth A. Babcock (University of Miami), Arnaud Gruss (University of Miami), Skyler Sagarese (University of Miami), and Cameron H. Ainsworth (University of South Florida)

Technical Monitor: Scott Cross (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

This project began in September 2015 and will end in August 2018.

Award Amount: $395,000

Why we care: Computer models are used to determine stock assessments for recreationally and commercially important fish species in the Gulf of Mexico. Fish diet is an important component of these models; as such this project  will link information from databases on fish distribution and diet to existing computer models of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. This will help inform future efforts in ecosystem-based fisheries management and restoration in the Gulf.

What we are doing:  The investigators will first conduct an inventory of existing ecosystem models for the Gulf of Mexico and identify how well these models currently address management and restoration issues. The investigators will then describe how existing models could be improved and what new ecosystem models should be developed for the benefit of ongoing and planned management and restoration programs in the Gulf of Mexico including fisheries management efforts. They will then convene a workshop that will serve to inform and elicit input from the management and research communities. The next step will be to test the capacity of existing models to predict the impacts of habitat and management actions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Expected Outcome: The project will develop a framework which will facilitate the future development of ecosystem models in the Gulf of Mexico.

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