Increasing use of ecological models for management and policy requires robust evaluation of model precision, accuracy, and sensitivity to ecosystem change. We conducted such an evaluation of hypoxia models for the northern Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay using hindcasts of historical data, comparing several approaches to model calibration. For both systems we find that model sensitivity and precision can be optimized and model accuracy maintained within reasonable bounds by calibrating the model to relatively short, recent 3 year datasets. Model accuracy was higher for Chesapeake Bay than for the Gulf of Mexico, potentially indicating the greater importance of unmodeled processes in the latter system. Retrospective analyses demonstrate both directional and variable changes in sensitivity of hypoxia to nutrient loads
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