Title: Using individual-based models to investigate the effects of changes in prey availability on top predators
Speaker: Charlotte Boyd, PhD, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington and Southwest Fisheries Science Center
The fundamental challenge in ecology is to understand the processes that underlie the abundance and distribution of populations. Mechanistic individual-based models provide a valuable but under-utilized tool for exploring how abundance and distribution patterns emerge from the behavior of individuals interacting with each other and their environment. In this presentation, I will show how individual-based modeling approaches can be used to investigate the effects of reduced prey availability on the population dynamics of top predators, and address questions about appropriate management responses. The first case study is focused on identifying the key aspects of prey availability that affect the foraging success of two species of seabird, the Peruvian Booby (Sula variegata) and Guanay Cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvilliorum) in the Humboldt Current System off Peru. The second is focused on identifying the key fish stocks that affect the reproductive and survival rates of Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) off the west coast of the United States and Canada.