Bioenergetics modeling in the 21st century: Reviewing new insights and revisiting old constraints

Steven R. Chipps, David H. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development and application of fish bioenergetics models have flourished in recent years, due in part to the complexity of the issues being faced by fisheries biologists. As with any model, the accuracy of bioenergetics models can be hampered by uncertainty in model parameters. A review of the literature showed that field and laboratory tests of bioenergetics models often result in poor agreement between model predictions and independent data. Nonetheless, bioenergetics modeling continues to be used to make important management decisions. Recent tests of model predictions have shown that parameter uncertainty is influenced by factors such as feeding rate, physiological adaptations, and prey composition and abundance. In an attempt to reduce the uncertainty in modeling applications, we propose a framework that highlights the importance of (1) model evaluation, (2) hypothesis-based parameter testing, and (3) improved communication between model developers and model users. Adherence to this framework will help reduce uncertainty in modeling applications and simultaneously contribute to a broader knowledge of fish physiology and feeding ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-313
Number of pages16
JournalTransactions of the American Fisheries Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • INHS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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