Modeling the Effects of a Power Plant Decommissioning on an Estuarine Food Web

James M. Vasslides, Howard Townsend, Thomas Belton, Olaf P. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


While a number of studies have looked at the impingement and entrainment impacts of power generation facilities on recreationally and commercially important fish species, few have assessed the effects on forage species or the broader aquatic community. Here, we constructed a trophic-based ecosystem model for the Barnegat Bay, New Jersey estuary, which is home to the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. Utilizing this model, we developed two scenarios: a baseline scenario for 1981–2030 and a decommissioning scenario where the generating station substantially reduces its water withdrawals beginning in 2020. The effect on the biomass of an individual species tended to be small (<3 %), and the direction of the change varied by species. Trophic interactions played an important role in determining the overall change in a species’ biomass, as some species directly impacted by the generating station had a reduced biomass in the decommissioning scenario due to increased predation mortality. The differences in results between the static mixed trophic impact analysis and the dynamic simulation analysis highlight the value of dynamic modeling in assessing management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-616
Number of pages13
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


  • Barnegat Bay
  • Ecopath with Ecosim
  • Power generation facility
  • Trophic interactions

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