The theoretical foundations for size spectrum models of fish communities

Ken H. Andersen*, Nis S. Jacobsen, K. D. Farnsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Size spectrum models have emerged from 40 years of basic research on how body size determines individual physiology and structures marine communities. They are based on commonly accepted assumptions and have a low parameter set, making them easy to deploy for strategic ecosystem-oriented impact assessment of fisheries. We describe the fundamental concepts in size-based models about food encounter and the bioenergetics budget of individuals. Within the general framework, three model types have emerged that differ in their degree of complexity: the food-web, the trait-based, and the community models. We demonstrate the differences between the models through examples of their response to fishing and their dynamic behavior. We review implementations of size spectrum models and describe important variations concerning the functional response, whether growth is food-dependent or fixed, and the density dependence imposed on the system. Finally, we discuss challenges and promising directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-588
Number of pages14
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science
Issue number4
Early online date23 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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