Evolution of a Fisheries Scientist: From Population Dynamics to Ecosystem Integration
Peter C. Jacobson
Fisheries science has a rich and proud history of studying the dynamics of important fish populations all around the world. Countless fisheries scientists have cut their career teeth modeling the population processes that drive many of these commercially and recreationally important fisheries. Quantifying those processes can be intoxicating for the mathematically inclined. Differential equations elegantly describe the fate of fish as they grow, reproduce, die, or are harvested. Parameterizing the equations is only limited by the amount of survey or fishery data available and the mathematical tools available to the analyst. Mathematically integrating them to calculate yield and population size is a wonderful and satisfying step. Imagine the feeling of exhilaration that Ray Beverton and Sidney Holt experienced when they first combined growth, recruitment, and natural and fishing mortality functions into a single yield-per-recruit equation (Beverton and Holt 1957). Envision the anticipation of Beverton eagerly awaiting another calculated yield as Holt diligently cranked out results for another step of fishing mortality from his hand-operated, World War II vintage, and now legendary Brunsviga calculating machine (Figure 1). Appreciate the sense of satisfaction when they published the remarkably complete On the Dynamics of Exploited Fish Populations and fully realized the impact that their work would have on fish population modeling around the world. The book is still the one of the most highly cited works in fisheries science—certainly satisfying at every step of their remarkable scientific journey and nourishing for the many fisheries scientists who have been developing and applying models of fish populations since.