Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Tyler, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ronald D. Cheetham, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ben Letcher, Committee Member




Steelhead populations support an economically valuable fishery in the Great Lakes region. Development of the region, resulting in land use changes and the introduction of hydropower, has affected the riverine habitat used by steelhead. I have developed an individual-based model of steelhead in the Manistee River, Michigan that simulates the long-term production of steelhead from the river. The model begins each year with a spawning population that produces redds for that year and then follows the offspring from each redd as individuals until they smolt one, two, or three years after spawning. Simulations run for ten-year periods. The simulated individuals are subjected to mortality from predation, starvation, and temperature extremes. Predation is a length-based mortality and is thereby affected by growth. Growth is determined by an individual's foraging success and bioenergetics. I conducted simulation experiments to examine the effect of changes in spawning numbers, temperature, and flow regime, on the number of individuals smolting in the river each year. Simulations reveal that the current flow regime and colder water temperatures are most beneficial for steelhead production and increasing the number of spawners does not increase steelhead production. The results also suggest that the young-of-the-year (YOY) stages have the greatest impact on steelhead production because the model showed no indication that steelhead life stages older than the YOY could compensate for density-related losses that occurred during the first year.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Biology & Biotechnology

Project Type


Date Accepted





individual-based model, Oncorhyncus mykiss, Steelhead (Fish), Steelhead fisheries, Fish-culture