NerkaSim: A research and educational tool to emulate the marine life history of pacific salmon in a dynamic environment

  • Rand P
  • Scandol J
  • Walter E
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This paper introduces NerkaSim, a computer program used to simulate and visualize the life history of Pacific salmon in a dynamic ocean environment. The computer program enables users to (1) archive and visualize biophysical oceanographic data; (2) execute a spatially explicit, individually based Pacific salmon model that can include migration, growth, and mortality processes; and (3) produce images of simulated migration trajectories and bioenergetic variables in both space and time. We anticipate a demand for the model for basic and applied research applications, where it can serve as a platform to explore hypotheses concerning migration, growth, and mortality processes for salmon in coastal and high-seas environments. Although designed to address issues related to British Columbia's Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), the model can easily be customized to accommodate different salmon species across the eastern Pacific Rim. Distributed as freeware, we hope that NerkaSim will become an effective educational tool for advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in fisheries ecology and oceanography. Here, we provide examples of how the program has been used to advance understanding of migration behavior and habitat quality for salmon in the northeast Pacific Ocean. We also detail of how to obtain more information about NerkaSim and an executable version of the program.

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  • PS Rand

  • JP Scandol

  • EE Walter

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