Benjamin Nelson

PhD Candidate
Tel: 604.822.8181
Fax: 604.822.8180

Project Supervisors: Murdoch McAllister and Andrew Trites 

B.Sc. University of Washington
M.Sc. University of Washington

Research Interests: My general research interests include both theoretical and empirical ecology, as well as conservation biology. Specific areas of interest are population dynamics, fisheries stock assessment, population viability analysis and Bayesian inference.

Research Area: Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada

Current Project:

“Multi-species modeling of predator/prey interactions between pinnipeds and Pacific salmon in the Strait of Georgia”

Seal and salmon

Seal and salmon

Since the 1970’s, the Strait of Georgia has seen significant declines in populations of both chinook and coho salmon. It’s likely that these trends are a result of a combination of factors that include (but are not limited to) fishery removals, climate regime shifts, variability of ocean conditions and degradation/loss of aquatic habitat. However, the rapid increase in pinniped (seals and sea lions) populations throughout the Strait of Georgia since the 1970’s has led to speculation that predation by these marine mammals may be impeding the recovery of salmon. By integrating updated pinniped diet information, consumption rates and abundance estimates with population dynamics models of salmon, we will attempt to quantify the synergistic impacts of fishery removals and pinniped predation on chinook and coho salmon. Additionally, we will implement simulation modeling to explore future management strategies such as predator removals, various harvest scenarios and fishery closures.