, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 17-25

A hierarchical approach to fisheries planning and modeling in the Columbia River Basin

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Abstract

The Columbia River Basin is the scene of a massive effort to restore populations of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and steelhead (O. mykiss). Efficient restoration is confounded by a high level of complexity, competing sociopolitical goals and values, and uncertainty about key system properties. Simulation models and other tools of systems analysis are important to development of a comprehensive, regionally acceptable strategy. Hierarchy theory provides a useful paradigm for organized complexity within the Columbia Basin and the basis for a trilevel hierarchical structure for organizing and integrating models. Life-stage models compose the most basic simulation units at the lowest level in the proposed hierarchical modeling structure. Each life-stage model simulates a distinct period in the life cycle of anadromous salmonids. Population models at the intermediate level simulate the complete life cycles of salmon and steelhead populations. At the highest level in the hierarchy, interpopulation models simulate extensive, long-term processes that affect multiple species and stocks. A hierarchical system of models is preferable to a single model or to a group of models lacking formal structure. A principal advantage is that models have the correct spatial and temporal resolution for analyzing questions at different scales. A hierarchical structure also facilitates the flow of information among models, and aids in understanding the impacts of uncertainty. Constructing a hierarchy of models should involve both bottom-up and top-down perspectives that maintain logical consistency among models, while allowing unique model structures appropriate for each level in the hierarchy.