Pacific Salmon Environmental and Life History Models: Advancing Science for Sustainable Salmon in the Future

Life History Models for Salmon Management: the Challenges

Ray Hilborn

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874097.ch2

Abstract.—Salmon have complex life histories that have been extensively studied, particularly in freshwater, yet most salmon management relies on models that ignore much of salmon life history. For instance, calculation of optimal escapement for most Pacific salmon stocks summarizes their entire life history into a single relationship between spawners and subsequent recruits. Similarly, most analyses of salmon habitat have used models that fail to integrate the complex life history of salmon and have often considered only a single “limiting factor.” Computational methods and models are now being used to incorporate life history and habitat information directly into evaluations of both harvesting and habitat management policies. Challenges and opportunities in using life history models include (1) the need for better dynamic understanding of how habitat affects survival, (2) turning current “expert system” analysis into statistical estimation, (3) application of life history models to hatchery/wild interaction, (4) quantifying essential fish habitat using life history models, (5) using real data and modeling stock structure in evaluation of harvest strategies, and (6) use of such models to explore salmon/ocean interactions.