Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8619
Title: Using conceptual models and qualitative network models to advance integrative assessments of marine ecosystems
Author: C. J. Harvey, J. C. P. Reum, Melissa R. Poe, G. D. Williams, Su J. Kim
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Coastal Management
Volume: 44
Pages: 486-503
DOI: 10.1080/08920753.2016.1208881
Keywords: ecosystem-based management,California Current,conceptual models,salmon,coastal pelagic species,human dimensions

The complexity of ecosystem-based management of natural resources has given rise to research frameworks such as integrated ecosystem assessments that pull together large amounts of diverse information from physical, ecological, and social domains. Conceptual models are valuable tools for assimilating and simplifying this information to convey our understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning. Qualitative network models (QNMs) may allow us to conduct dynamic simulations of conceptual models to explore natural-social relationships, compare management strategies, and identify tradeoffs. We used previously developed QNM methods to perform simulations based on conceptual models of the California Current ecosystem’s pelagic communities and related human activities and values. Assumptions about community structure and trophic interactions influenced the outcomes of the QNMs. In simulations where we applied unfavorable environmental conditions for production of salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), intensive management actions only modestly mitigated declines experienced by salmon, but strongly constrained human activities; moreover, the management actions had little effect on a human wellbeing attribute, sense of place. Sense of place was most strongly affected by a relatively small subset of all possible pairwise interactions, although the relative influence of individual pairwise interactions on sense of place grew more uniform as management actions were added, making it more difficult to trace effective management actions via specific mechanistic pathways. Future work will explore the importance of changing conceptual models and QNMs to represent management questions at finer spatial and temporal scales, and also examine finer representation of key ecological and social components.

Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management