One of the major challenges facing fishery scientists and managers today is determining how fish populations are influenced by habitat conditions. Many approaches have been explored to address this challenge, all of which involve modeling at one level or another. In this paper, we explore a process-oriented model approach whereby the critical population processes of birth and death rates are explicitly linked to habitat conditions. Application of this approach to five species of Great Lakes fishes including: walleye (Sander vitreus), lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and rainbow trout (Onchorynchus mykiss), yielded a number of insights into the modeling process. One of the foremost insights is that processes determining movement and transport of fish are critical components of such models since these processes largely determine the habitats fish occupy. Because of the importance of fish location, an individual-based model appears to be a nearly inescapable modeling requirement. There is, however, a paucity of field-based data directly relating birth, death, and movement rates to habitat conditions experienced by individual fish. There is also a paucity of habitat information at a fine temporal and spatial scale for many important habitat variables. Finally, the general occurrence of strong ontogenetic changes in the response of different life stages to habitat conditions emphasizes the need for a modeling approach that considers all life stages in an integrated fashion.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 29, 2009
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