Determining the ecological mechanisms that control population abundances is an important issue for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. We examined whether a threatened bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) population could coexist at observed levels with the ecologically similar introduced species, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), using a pattern-oriented analysis of population dynamics models. We used a large suite of stage- and age-structured models to examine how both competitive and predatory interactions, combined with differing life-history strategies and species vital rates, drove salmonid coexistence patterns. In our models, an ontogenetic shift in juvenile bull trout resource use was the most important factor contributing to the two species coexistence; however, this coexistence occurred with reduced abundances in bull trout that increase the chances of extirpation for the native species. Observed levels of competition were found to have stronger effects than predation on population abundances. We used a pattern-oriented modeling approach to inference; this approach assumes process models that can generate patterns similar to the observed patterns are better supported than those that cannot. This methodology may find wide use on a number of data-limited fishery management and conservation problems.
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences|
|State||Published - Apr 2012|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science