Understanding the interactions among multiple stressors is a crucial issue for ecological risk assessment and ecosystem management. However, it is often impractical, or impossible, to collect empirical data concerning all the interactions at any scale because the type of interaction differs across species and levels of biological organization. We applied an agent-based model to simulate the effects of a hypothetical chemical stressor and inter-specific competition (both alone and together) on greenback cutthroat trout (GCT), a listed species under the US Endangered Species Act, in two temperature scenarios. The trout life cycle is modeled using the Dynamic Energy Budget theory. The chemical stressor is represented by a reduction in ingestion efficiency, and competition is implemented by introducing a population of brown trout. Results show that chemical exposure is the major stressor in the colder temperature scenario, whereas competition mostly affected the GCT population in the warmer environment. Moreover, the effects of the stressors at the individual level were not predictive of the type of interactions between stressors (additive, antagonistic, synergistic) at the population level, which differed between the two-temperature scenarios. We conclude that mechanistic models can help to identify generalities about interactions among environmental and stressor properties, create in-silico experiments to provide different scenarios for conservation purposes, and explore multiple-exposure consequences at higher levels of biological organization. In this way they can provide useful tools for improving ecological risk assessment and informing management decisions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Maxime Vaugeois for his advice on model implementation and his comments on model outputs. Funding for this project was provided by University of Minnesota.
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- Agent-based model
- Changing climate
- Dynamic Energy Budget Theory
- Ecological risk assessment
- Multiple stressors
- Trout species