Connected networks of sea lice populations: dynamics and implications for control
Adams, TP and Proud, R and Black, KD, Connected networks of sea lice populations: dynamics and implications for control, Aquaculture Environment Interactions, 6, (3) pp. 273-284. ISSN 1869-215X (2015) [Refereed Article]
In studies of the population dynamics of parasitic sea lice and the implications of outbreaks
for salmon farms, several types of mathematical models have been implemented. Delay
differential equation models describe the temporal dynamics of average adult lice densities over
many farm sites. In contrast, larval transport models consider the relative densities of lice at farm
sites by modelling larval movements between them but do not account for temporal dynamics or
feedbacks created by reproduction. Finally, several recent studies have investigated spatiotemporal
variation in site lice abundances using statistical models and distance-based proxies for connectivity.
We developed a model which integrates connectivity estimates from larval transport
models into the delay differential equation framework. This allows representation of sea lice
developmental stages, dispersal between sites, and the impact of management actions. Even with
identical external infection rates, lice abundances differ dramatically between farms over a production
cycle (dependent on oceanographic conditions and resulting between-farm connectivity).
Once infected, lice dynamics are dominated by site reproduction and subsequent dispersal. Lice
control decreases actual lice abundances and also reduces variation in abundance between sites
(within each simulation) and between simulation runs. Control at sites with the highest magnitude
of incoming connections, computed directly from connectivity modelling, had the greatest impact
on lice abundances across all sites. Connectivity metrics may therefore be a reasonable approximation
of the effectiveness of management practices at particular sites. However, the model also
provides new opportunities for investigation and prediction of lice abundances in interconnected
systems with spatially varying infection and management.
sea lice management, population connectivity, metapopulation, spatial dynamics, dispersal