Energy-flow food webs simply show how many calories a population of organisms gets from different food sources. Multiple different methods have been developed to estimate how many calories an individual or population needs in order to survive and grow (e.g. Wisconsin bioenergetics for fishes vs. Benke-Wallace estimation for invertebrates). Different methods have different pros and cons. As part of my thesis work, I have been attempting to refine some of these methods so that they incorporate sufficient complexity to create accurate results while not being overly burdensome to understand or use. Applications of energy-flow food webs include:
- Deciding how many fish to stock in a lake or river.
- Testing methods of reservoir water release to maximize food for downstream fishes.
- Determining which type of stream restoration has the greatest benefit for endangered salmon.
- Deciding whether or not to treat nuisance algae blooms to increase food for at-risk Redband Trout.