Implications of Stream Fragmentation for Climate Change Resilience of Northern Prairie Fishes
August 2022 - December 2025
- US Geological Survey
Fishes native to the northern prairie ecoregion of North America are adapted to harsh conditions such as seasonal flooding and drying, often recolonizing habitats from refuge habitats. However, climate change induced drought and anthropogenic barriers are fragmenting streams and disrupting natural recolonization pathways. Our goal is to evaluate the vulnerability of prairie stream fishes to stream fragmentation and climate-induced drought, and explore potential mitigation strategies. We are also collaborating with partners to evaluate the efficacy of stream restoration to increase the extent and availability of drought-refuge habitats. The project is a collaboration of researchers across multiple agencies and includes the USGS North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, fisheries in Wyoming and Montana, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management, and the University of Wyoming. Our research will provide products that will help manage for processes (e.g., habitat connectivity to allow recolonization post-disturbance or drying events) that can maintain resilient fish populations in the face of climate change.