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Salmon Smolt: Stella PC and Mac

This activity was written by Dr. Andrew Ford Washington State University Program in Environmental Science and Regional Planning. Starting Point page organized by R.M. MacKay.
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Initial Publication Date: July 19, 2005


The Stella Smolts Migration Model focuses on the spring migration of hatchery smolts to the ocean. It may be used to test the relative merits of barging fish or drawing down the reservoirs to help the smolts reach the ocean. This pre-made Stella Model demonstrates how model simulation might be used in fishery management. Fisheries have declined in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. You will learn how previous simulation models have been used to help managers deal with the many factors contributing to the decline. The model includes an interactive exercise to place you in the role of fishery manager.

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Context for Use

Appropriate for an introductory geoscience course with an Earth System approach. This is a great activity to show the connection between the physical environment (river system with dams) and the biosphere (salmon smolt).

Teaching Materials

Everything you need is available at BPA STEP Smolt Activity Site. (Bonneville Power Administration Systems Thinking in Education Project)

This site includes:

  • Background information;
  • The salmon life-cycle overview and several great images for introductory discussion;
  • Smolt Model User Guide
  • Pre-made Stella Model in Mac or PC format
  • Student Exercises (same exercises as in Chapter 13 below)
  • Chapter 13 "The Salmon Smolt's Spring Migration" of Andrew Fords book "Modeling the Environment" in PDF format. This includes student exercises;
  • Multi-agency executive summary "Conservation of Columbia Basin Fish" in PDF format;

Teaching Notes and Tips

The Stella Model in PC or Mac format can be downloaded from the BPA site above. If you do not have Stella at your school you can download a free demo version of Stella from High Performance Systems, Inc.


Exercises at the end of Chapter 13 can be used as assessment as well as follow-up discussions or student written reports.

References and Resources

Modeling the Environment ( This site may be offline. ) by Andrew Ford, 1999.

Many other resources and references related to salmon ecology can be found at BPA STEP Smolt Activity Site.