Assessing uncertainty in a multispecies age-structured assessment framework: The effects of data limitations and model assumptions

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Performance of a multispecies age-structured assessment (MSASA) model in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) relative to changes in data and model assumptions was examined through simulation exercises. Species included arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), and Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus). Age-specific predation mortality was estimated as a flexible function of predator and prey abundances and fitted to diet data. Simulated data sets were constructed by applying random error to estimates of catch, survey, and diet data from an operating model, whose structure was identical to that of the estimating model. Simulations explored the effects of data variability, mismatched assumptions regarding model structure, and lack of diet data on model performance. Model misspecification and uninformative diet data had the greatest influence on model performance. Given the current emphasis on the development of ecosystem-based models and management, prioritizing the rigorous sampling of diet data would best facilitate the development of predation models useful to management agencies.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Natural Resource Modeling