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Food web dynamics in a seasonally varying wetland

1. U.S. Geological Survey and Department of Biology, University of Miami, 1301 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, Florida 33143
2. Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33133
3. Everglades National Park, National Park Service, Homestead, Florida 33199

A spatially explicit model is developed to simulate the small fish community and its underlying food web, in the freshwater marshes of the Everglades. The community is simplified to a few small fish species feeding on periphyton and invertebrates. Other compartments are detritus, crayfish, and a piscivorous fish species. This unit food web model is applied to each of the 10,000 spatial cells on a 100 x 100 pixel landscape. Seasonal variation in water level is assumed and rules are assigned for fish movement in response to rising and falling water levels, which can cause many spatial cells to alternate between flooded and dry conditions. It is shown that temporal variations of water level on a spatially heterogeneous landscape can maintain at least three competing fish species. In addition, these environmental factors can strongly affect the temporal variation of the food web caused by top-down control from the piscivorous fish.
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Keywords fish population; spatially explicit; food web model; fish community; differential equations; Everglades

Citation: Donald L. DeAngelis, Joel C. Trexler, Douglas D. Donalson. Food web dynamics in a seasonally varying wetland. Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2008, 5(4): 877-887. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2008.5.877


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