Because environmental systems are inherently complex and managers are increasingly concerned with changes that occur over larger scales of space and time, conceptual models are used to synthesize and communicate understanding of system dynamics, to identify key system components, and to communicate about interactions between system components. Given the complexity of natural systems and the huge variety of factors that influence natural processes, conceptual models help organize information and make sense of system components and interactions. Conceptual models thus help to facilitate our current understanding of system processes and dynamics, to identify linkages of processes across disciplinary boundaries, and to identify the bounds and scope of the system of interest.