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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Using Food Webs and Metabolic Theory to Monitor, Model, and Manage Atlantic Salmon-A Keystone Species Under Threat

Woodward, Guy; Morris, Olivia; Barquin, Jose; Belgrano, Andrea; Bull, Colin; de Eyto, Elvira; Friberg, Nikolai; Guobergsson, Guoni; Layer-Dobra, Katrin; Lauridsen, Rasmus B.; Lewis, Hannah M.; McGinnity, Philip; Pawar, Samraat; Rosindell, James; O'Gorman, Eoin J.


Populations of Atlantic salmon are crashing across most of its natural range: understanding the underlying causes and predicting these collapses in time to intervene effectively are urgent ecological and socioeconomic priorities. Current management techniques rely on phenomenological analyses of demographic population time-series and thus lack a mechanistic understanding of how and why populations may be declining. New multidisciplinary approaches are thus needed to capitalize on the long-term, large-scale population data that are currently scattered across various repositories in multiple countries, as well as marshaling additional data to understand the constraints on the life cycle and how salmon operate within the wider food web. Here, we explore how we might combine data and theory to develop the mechanistic models that we need to predict and manage responses to future change. Although we focus on Atlantic salmon-given the huge data resources that already exist for this species-the general principles developed here could be applied and extended to many other species and ecosystems.


Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar); marine and freshwater fisheries; ecosystem-based management (EBM); matrix projection models; metabolic theory of ecology (MTE); life-stage models; size structure

Published in

Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
2021, volume: 9, article number: 675261

Authors' information

Woodward, Guy
Imperial College London
Morris, Olivia
Imperial College London
Barquin, Jose
Universidad de Cantabria
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Bull, Colin
University of Stirling
de Eyto, Elvira
Atlantic Salmon Trust
Friberg, Nikolai
University of Leeds
Friberg, Nikolai
University of Copenhagen
Layer-Dobra, Katrin
Imperial College London
Lauridsen, Rasmus B.
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Guðbergsson, Guðni
University of Leeds
Lewis, Hannah M.
Imperial College London
McGinnity, Philip
University College Cork
Pawar, Samraat
Imperial College London
Rosindell, James
Imperial College London
O'Gorman, Eoin J.
University of Essex

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

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