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Phone: 1300 5 WATER (1300 5 92837)
Email:

eWater
Innovation Centre
University of Canberra
ACT 2601
www.ewater.com.au

Overview


Purpose

Eco Modeller is a tool for building, storing and running quantitative models of ecological responses to physical and biological factors, for use in comparing the merits of alternative natural resource management solutions. It was initially developed to quantify the ecological consequences of different watering scenarios on biota, but can also be applied to non-aquatic scenarios.


The software itself is divided into 3 distinct parts:


Model builder where ecologists can construct and store an individual species model by applying:
  • summary information describing the model (name, supporting documents, author, owner, location, etc.);
  • a function (rating curve, hydraulic rule, formula, or direct input) to transform the input scenarios;
  • reporting options to specify the model output (based on RAP’s TSA module or a custom plugin;
  • confidence in the model source.

Model runner where environmental managers can:
  • select models from the model library for inclusion in the model run;
  • associate scenarios with each model and run them;
  • view the report output including a summary of expected organism response or habitat change under each scenario and a measure of the calculated ‘confidence’ in the prediction.

Library manager a local interface where users can contribute their models to, or download other peoples models from Eco Modeller Online, the online database of ecological models.

Target user group

  • Ecology researchers
  • Consultant model developers
  • Catchment managers

Complexity

Eco Modeller has an intuitive interface that facilitates it's ease of use. However, sensible interpretation of results requires a deeper knowledge of the species and scenarios being modelled. As such, it is recommended for those researchers and managers with a good knowledge of ecological response modelling.

Example applications

A wetland of international significance is subject to competing demands on its water supply, from both irrigation and the environment. To balance these demands, the catchment management authority (CMA) responsible for the wetland hopes to allocate irrigation water in a way that does not compromise the ecological integrity of the wetland ecosystem. Certain species that reside in the wetland have been identified as being crucial to ecosystem condition and may be negatively impacted if water is extracted inappropriately. The CMA's ecologists use Eco Modeller to construct models of the species' responses to habitat requirements (e.g. water depth and velocity) and then test various watering scenarios to see what the impacts will be on the species in the wetland. Because the models are stored in the Eco Modeller database along with supporting information, catchment managers can make defensible decisions regarding management actions and then reuse/re-run the models if watering demands, or knowledge of species ecology change in the future.

Overview of features, advantage and benefits

Eco Modeller fills a gap in the science of ecological response modelling by providing a robust, transparent and consistent platform by which natural resource management decisions can be made. The fact that models can be stored in an information rich environment within Eco Modeller's database, means that they can be defended, reused and continually improved.




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