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Individual-based stream trout research and environmental assessment model

What is inSTREAM?

screencapture: instream
inSTREAM's software provides a variety of graphical outputs that make it easier to control, test, and understand the model. The animation windows are top-down views of the virtual stream reaches, showing the habitat cells and each individual trout. Mouse clicks can open windows displaying the state of each cell or trout.

inSTREAM is an individual-based model (IBM) of trout in a stream environment; it predicts how trout populations respond to many kinds of environmental and biological change. The simulated environment includes spatially and temporally varying in hydraulic conditions (depth, velocity, cover providing velocity shelter), temperature, turbidity, and food availability. The model trout adapt to changing conditions mainly by selecting which habitat to use, making a tradeoff between growth rate and mortality risk. Trout feed and grow, experience various kinds of mortality, and reproduce.

What can inSTREAM be used for?

inSTREAM was originally designed as an instream flow assessment tool: a model for predicting how fish populations respond to changes in stream flow and temperature, as occur downstream of dams. IBMs have many potential advantages over conventional, habitat-based tools for instream flow assessment (e.g., PHABSIM). In particular, inSTREAM can predict the effects of alternative flow regimes (not just minimum flows), and the cumulative effects of changes in flow, temperature, and other variables often affected by dams.

inSTREAM is also useful for assessing the effects of environmental processes other than instream flow and temperature. For example, the model can predict population-level effects of changes in turbidity, physical habitat and channel shape (including habitat restoration), food production, and species introductions.

We also use inSTREAM as a tool for basic ecological research. Many questions and theories of ecology are very difficult to test rigorously in the field, but are easily tested in inSTREAM. We have used simulation experiments to examine such questions as: (1) What is the relation between animal density and habitat quality— is the habitat where animals are most often found really the best habitat? (2) What controls negative power-law self-thinning in stream trout— is it the allometric metabolic relationship, as theorized? (3) How do animals make tradeoffs between mortality risk and growth?

Who can use inSTREAM? What does it cost?

inSTREAM is a public domain product distributed free of charge. See links below to download the current release and supporting documentation. We appreciate potential users contacting us so we know who is trying to do what. inSTREAM is programmed using the Swarm simulation system, which is also freely available from The Swarm Development Group but we encourage users to support SDG by becoming members.

Sponsors of inSTREAM's development include the Electric Power Research Institute, USDA Forest Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Is inSTREAM new?

Current versions of inSTREAM are the offspring of a long line of models and research programs.

Use these links to:

Download inSTREAM version 5 software, example input, and documentation

See a summary description of inSTREAM

Read about our tests and validation

See example applications

Access our archive of older versions of inSTREAM

If you are interested in inSTREAM:

Please contact Steve Railsback or Bret Harvey. Additional information is available on our Who We Are page.