Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Kansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Kansas Project

PREPROPOSAL SUBMITTED BUT DECLINED “Strategic planning for science-based management of federal reservoir fish populations and associated water supplies to address emerging 21st century threats: A collaborative approach.”

January 2024 - December 2027


Participating Agencies

  • America the Beautiful, Sentinel Landscape Initiative

Reservoirs, common aquatic ecosystems that occur throughout the US, provide substantial benefits for society (e.g., water, flood control, recreation). Over 700 federal reservoirs are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, making them critically important landscapes for the Department of Defense. Managing reservoir fish for recreational angling is a primary responsibility for state agencies. In addition, the connection between the lacustrine component of reservoirs and associated inflow-outflow rivers can have positive and negative effects on fish communities, including at risk species. At present, reservoir ecosystems are difficult to understand and manage because of their size, heterogeneity, ecological complexity, land-water link and multiple use objectives. Reservoirs also face increasing threats from aging, invasives, climate change, fish habitat loss, sediment accumulation, adjacent land use, eutrophication, harmful algae, and other adverse impacts. Although reservoirs have many disciplinary and policy components, their role in recreational fishing, swimming, and recreational boating are major foci for local partnerships of state and federal agency professionals and the general public. Identifying ways to address future change is daunting, but strategic rethinking about managing present and future threats can yield substantial benefits.

Much literature and many datasets exist that describe reservoir fish populations, water quality/quantity, watershed land use, habitat, and stream fish communities. However, this literature and these datasets often are not integrated. Consequently, much useful information that could help manage reservoirs is underused because of this lack of synthesis. A guide for quantitative synthesis would benefit all fisheries professionals interested in managing reservoir fish and the associated angling communities. Most state agency employees, charged with managing reservoir fish and reservoir fish habitat, have a full plate of responsibilities. Thus, asking agencies alone to take on new challenges is not realistic. However, a number of university researchers have a strong interest in helping to provide science that guides management. Together, university researchers and agency scientists can advance future strategic planning that will benefit popular sportfish, associated anglers, state management plans, at risk species, ecological connections that promote resilience, and reservoir readiness to respond to threats and change.