Fish Population Dynamics and Assessment


Target Audience:

Federal and state fisheries managers and researchers interested in learning how to use fish population dynamics concepts and models to better assess and manage fish resources.

Summary and Objectives:

The goal of this course is to provide a set of tools useful for managing fish resources. This course will focus on techniques associated with the two fundamental activities for successful management:

  1. Monitoring fish populations with sufficient rigor to characterize key population attributes important to management objectives (e.g., growth, mortality, abundance, and size distribution); and
  2. Predicting how key population attributes might change with implementation of management actions.

Students will learn basic parameter estimation, fisheries modeling and a framework to estimate key population attributes using monitoring data. The methods covered in this course could apply to exploited fisheries applications (e.g., managing harvest) as well as conservation (e.g., endangered species). Students will learn how to use models to communicate ideas about the behavior of fish populations and to predict how populations might change with changing environmental or management drivers. The course will utilize case histories and actual fisheries data to elaborate these concepts. Students will build estimation and simulation models in Microsoft Excel.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Become familiar with common fisheries population models to describe growth, mortality, recruitment, and fishing.
  • Conduct parameter estimation using least squares and likelihood approaches in a spreadsheet framework.
  • Explore the role of monitoring in contemporary fisheries management and research.
  • Use of simulation modeling to evaluate the efficacy of monitoring designs and to predict the outcome of management actions.
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