Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Science

Document Type



Offshore oil and gas platforms have had a significant presence in the Gulf of Mexico since the 1950s. An important secondary function of these structures is that they provide artificial habitat to fisheries, most notably Red snapper. Policy changes intended to reduce the risk associated with aging infrastructure have reduced the number of standing platforms from 4044 to 1867 from 2001 to 2018. The effect this loss of habitat has on Red snapper was tested by creating three scenarios of platform changes and modeling the perturbation from 2005 to 2050. The simulation was accomplished using the ecological model Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) where Ecosim executes the time dynamic portion of the model and Ecopath provides the initial mass balanced information for all species in the system. Fecundity estimates were used on a per platform basis and imposed on the egg production parameter of the Ecosim model to complete the scenarios. Results showed Red snapper fecundity on platforms to be relatively low resulting in minor changes in biomass for all three scenarios of offshore platform change. The most notable differences were in the types of vulnerability estimations used which dictates the interaction between organisms in the model. Based on these parameters offshore platforms were not seen to be a major contributor to Red snapper populations in any scenario or estimation method.

Committee Chair

Snyder Brian