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Integration of a fish bioenergetics model into a spatially explicit water quality model: Application to menhaden in Chesapeake Bay


Although fish are usually thought of as victims of water quality degradation, it has been proposed that some planktivorous species may improve water quality through consumption of algae and sequestering of nutrients via growth. Within most numerical water quality models, the highest trophic level modeled explicitly is zooplankton, prohibiting an investigation of the effect a fish species may be having on its environment. Conversely, numerical models of fish consumption do not typically include feedback mechanisms to capture the effects of fish on primary production and nutrient recycling. In the present study, a fish bioenergetics model is incorporated into CE-QUAL-ICM, a spatially explicit eutrophication model. In addition to fish consumption of algae, zooplankton, and detritus, fish biomass accumulation and nutrient recycling to the water column are explicitly accounted for. These developments advance prior modeling efforts of the impact of fish on water quality, many of which are based on integrated estimates over an entire system and which omit the feedback the fish have through nutrient recycling and excretion. To validate the developments, a pilot application was undertaken for Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) in Chesapeake Bay. The model indicates menhaden may reduce the algal biomass while simultaneously increasing primary productivity.

This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


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