A Food Web Modeling Approach to Evaluate and Predict Impacts of Lake Champlain Fish Population Changes


February 1, 2019 to January 31, 2022


Fishery exploitation, land use, and invasive species are major forces that affect the structure of aquatic systems. Lake Champlain aquatic communities were substantially modified over the past 200 years by commercial fishing, deforestation, and the addition of 51 exotic plants and animals.

Researchers will develop whole-lake food web models for Lake Champlain to serve as a fisheries management tool to help establish sustainable fish harvest limits while preserving ecosystem stability and services. Using both the PCLake model and the PCLake+ model for deep lakes, researchers will examine the links between organisms and the impacts of exotic species invasions in Lake Champlain.

The models will serve as a tool for managers to better understand how past management actions and exotic species have impacted fish populations, and to predict future changes to fish populations that will continue to be affected by management actions, environmental changes, and exotic species. In addition to scientific publications and meeting presentations, researchers will regularly communicate with angling groups, managers, and other lake users through Twitter and public talks to Trout Unlimited chapters and to the Lake Champlain Fishing Forum.

Recent progress: As the food web model is completed and published in peer-reviewed journals, the research team has started to share our ecosystem approach for Lake Champlain fisheries management with the scientific community and the general public. The ecosystem approach and the food web model has been shared with several audiences, including scientists and students in an introductory course in natural resources at UVM.

Through these presentations, the scientific and public communities are becoming more aware of how the extensive available data sets for Lake Champlain can be integrated into a food web modeling application to inform fisheries management agencies, to increase understanding of the past and future impacts of invasive species, and to help design fish restoration efforts.


Jason Stockwell
Professor, University of Vermont
jason.stockwell [at] uvm.edu

Ellen Marsden
Professor, University of Vermont
ellen.marsden [at] uvm.edu

Rosalie Bruel
Postdoctoral Associate, University of Vermont
rosalie.bruel [at] uvm.edu

Justin Lesser
Postdoctoral Associate, University of Vermont
justin.lesser [at] uvm.edu

Resulting Publications