Assessing competition between Steller sea lions and the commercial groundfishery in Alaska: A bioenergetics modelling approach Academic Article uri icon


  • In the last three decades the western stock of the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) has declined by more than 85%. Nutritional stress resulting in increased juvenile mortality is one of the leading hypotheses to account for this decline. Competition between Steller sea lions and the commercial groundfishery for walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) has been proposed as a mechanism underlying the nutritional stress. In order to examine the competition component of the nutritional stress hypothesis, we developed a bioenergetics-based model to project the population trends of Steller sea lions under various scenarios of continued groundfish harvest. Annual energy budgets were calculated for the Gulf of Alaska population of Steller sea lions, and compared with projected available energy from walleye pollock under a variety of harvest scenarios. Model simulations produced 50-year Steller sea lion population projections consistent with current trends, as well as with published projections for stable and increasing populations from stable age distribution life table models. Model simulations were unable to produce energy deficits sufficient to account for the decline in Steller sea lions, but do suggest areas where existing data need supplementing. 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Cornick, L. A., Neill, W., & Grant, W. E.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Cornick, Leslie A||Neill, William||Grant, William E

publication date

  • November 2006