Papers and panel discussions given during a 1992 symposium on bioenergetics models are summarized. Bioenergetics models have been applied to a variety of research and management questions related to fish stocks, populations, food webs, and ecosystems. Applications include estimates of the intensity and dynamics of predator-prey interactions, nutrient cycling within aquatic food webs of varying trophic structure, and food requirements of single animals, whole populations, and communities of fishes. As tools in food web and ecosystem applications, bioenergetics models have been used to compare forage consumption by salmonid predators across the Laurentian Great Lakes for single populations and whole communities, and to estimate the growth potential of pelagic predators in Chesapeake Bay and Lake Ontario. Some critics say that bioenergetics models lack sufficient detail to produce reliable results in such field applications, whereas others say that the models are too complex to be useful tools for fishery managers. Nevertheless, bioenergetics models have achieved notable predictive successes. Improved estimates are needed for model parameters such as metabolic costs of activity, and more complete studies are needed of the bioenergetics of larval and juvenile fishes. Future research on bioenergetics should include laboratory and field measurements of key model parameters such as weight-dependent maximum consumption, respiration and activity, and thermal habitats actually occupied by fish. Future applications of bioenergetics models to fish populations also depend on accurate estimates of population sizes and survival rates.
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Applications of bioenergetics models to fish ecology and management: where do we go from here?