The proliferation of double-crested cormorants (DCCOs; Phalacrocorax auritus) in North America has raised concerns over their potential negative impacts on game, cultured and forage fishes, island and terrestrial resources, and other colonial water birds, leading to increased public demands to reduce their abundance. By combining fish surplus production and bird functional feeding response models, we developed a deterministic predictive model representing bird–fish interactions to inform an adaptive management process for the control of DCCOs in multiple colonies in Michigan. Comparisons of model predictions with observations of changes in DCCO numbers under management measures implemented from 2004 to 2012 suggested that our relatively simple model was able to accurately reconstruct past DCCO population dynamics. These comparisons helped discriminate among alternative parameterizations of demographic processes that were poorly known, especially site fidelity. Using sensitivity analysis, we also identified remaining critical uncertainties (mainly in the spatial distributions of fish vs. DCCO feeding areas) that can be used to prioritize future research and monitoring needs. Model forecasts suggested that continuation of existing control efforts would be sufficient to achieve long-term DCCO control targets in Michigan and that DCCO control may be necessary to achieve management goals for some DCCO-impacted fisheries in the state. Finally, our model can be extended by accounting for parametric or ecological uncertainty and including more complex assumptions on DCCO–fish interactions as part of the adaptive management process.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||A predictive model to inform adaptive management of double-crested cormorants and fisheries in Michigan|
|Series title||Natural Resource Modeling|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Atlanta|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|