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  • Conceptual Models
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    How to Develop a Conceptual Models

      Development of a CEM typically requires production of an initial draft, a one- or two-day workshop with the project delivery team and key agency personnel, and several days follow-up to revise and document the model. Large or controversial projects will require a greater investment of resources, including potential independent scientific review. The process can be summarized in the 7-Step Process below, but for more detail, refer to the technical notes, case studies, and tools referenced under Conceptual Models.

      1. State the model objectives.
      Consider the project goals, interests of stakeholders and partners, and broader impacts.

      2. Bound the system of interest.
      Identify the scope, and recognize the limits of the Corps’ involvement and stakeholders’ involvement.

      3. Identify critical model components within the system of interest.
      Identify physical features, biological components impacted by the project, anthropogenic inputs, and key natural or human-induced processes.

      4. Articulate the relationships among the components of interest.
      Identify stressors and drivers and system response.

      5. Represent the conceptual model.
      Consider the audience and choose the appropriate visual display. Insert narrative descriptions of components and processes, and include references.

      6. Describe the expected pattern of model behavior.
      Document what might happen under different scenarios. Look for similar projects and lessons learned. Identify changes that might occur without project involvement. Consider possible management strategies.

      7. Test, review, and revise as needed.
      Consider: Do sufficient data exist? Are there critical environmental thresholds to consider? Is there adequate documentation and justification? Consider similar projects and make revisions if something was missed.

      Try the Conceptual Ecological Construction Assistance Toolbox (CEMCAT).

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