I recently had the opportunity to lecture on “Aquaculture and Sustainability of Coastal Ecosystems” at the NSF-funded Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) in Columbus, Ohio. The MBI focuses on different theme programs; in the fall of 2013 the theme program is Ecosystem Dynamics and Management. In my lecture, I focused on work done over the last 10 years, with grad students and colleagues, on disease transfer between aquaculture and wild salmon. This turns out to be a key issue for sustainability of wild salmon, particularly pink salmon, in coastal ecosystems
Our work investigates the dynamics of parasite spill-over and spill back between wild salmon and aquaculture. It employs mathematical methods, such as dynamical systems and differential equations, to analyze the biological processes. It also involves large amounts of data collected by field researchers on wild and domestic salmon parasites. Over the years, the work has received a great deal of scientific and public scrutiny. Our results, showing how aquaculture can impact wild salmon populations has been enthusiastically endorsed by some and has also been criticized by others. However, it has connected to policy makers and to the general public, and we believe that it can and has made a difference in how we manage aquaculture. A reflection on how scientific research can impact policy and decision making is given in a new book Bioeconomics of Invasive species: Integrating Ecology, Economics, Policy and Management. The reference is:
Keller, R.P., Lewis, M.A., Lodge, D.M., Shogren, J.F., Krkošek, M. Putting bioeconomic research into practice. In: R.P Keller, D.M. Lodge, M.A. Lewis and J.F. Shogren, (eds.), Bioeconomics of Invasive Species: Integrating Ecology, Economics and Management. (Ch 13, pp 266-284). Oxford University Press.
The lecture has been recorded and can be viewed here.
University of Alberta