Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Easton R White

Second Advisor

Julia Novak Colwell

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Fairchild


Small-scale fisheries are essential to the livelihoods of 40 million people worldwide. They are key sources of nutrients and income for these communities that rely on them. However, understanding the status of these fisheries requires in-depth data collection, often in remote areas. Further, each small-scale fishery is very individualized, and external groups attempting to impose fishing restrictions are often met with low compliance or are unsuccessful in their efforts to conserve fish stocks due to a lack of understanding of either fishing culture or the ecology of the harvested species. In this thesis, I employ various mechanistic models to small-scale fisheries in order to better understand their underlying dynamics. In Chapter 1, I fit a Lefkovitch matrix population model to blue octopus (Octopus cyanea) data in the small-scale fishery of Southwestern Madagascar in order to assess their life history and population health. In Chapter 2, I create a socio-ecological model with replicator dynamics and incorporated social hierarchy and space. Here, we found that collaboration between groups of people will be ineffective if only the financial gain of fishing is communicated, not the fishing strategies used to achieve high yields. Further, we found that fish movement was an extremely important parameter in these models. This work serves to exemplify the mathematical tools available when assessing small-scale fisheries and highlight the need for a more substantive understanding of the status of the world’s small-scale fisheries.