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


January 2010 - March 2013


Participating Agencies

Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to provide guidance to aquatic resource managers and decision makers for managing this habitat and their associated aquatic communities. Our proposed research will inform management and conservation efforts performed at multiple spatial scales, ranging from the regional prioritization of critical aquatic habitats to local population dynamics of ecologically and economically valuable fish species. An important first step in managing the nation's fish habitat is a comprehensive assessment of the current state of habitat at national, regional and local scales. Successful management of aquatic habitat will also require a capacity to forecast changes in habitat as result of future changes in climate, land-use, and other natural and anthropogenic factors. Successful conservation and management will need to determine what are the critical habitat and resource strategies to conserve in order to maintain freshwater biodiversity, freshwater fisheries and ecosystem function in the future. While downscaled climate models are urgently needed, the current tools that have been developed are at much broader scales and have limited utility at regional and local levels. However, there is a mismatch between the broad-scale predictions from these models and the more local management of fish and aquatic habitats. Development of methods that integrate forecasts of land-use and climate change for prediction of changes in the aquatic habitat within nested national, regional and local scales are urgently needed. The goal of this project is to develop a multi-scale assessment of the current and future status of fish habitat (and predicted biological responses) under scenarios of projected climate and land-use changes at national, regional and local scales. We will develop: 1) a coarse assessment of vulnerable habitat across the nation useful to National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) board and federal national offices, 2) medium resolution information across four regions appropriate for NFHAP partnerships and state agencies, and 3) relatively high resolution data about current and future habitat status so that local managers and stakeholders can identify the appropriate spatial scale where lentic and lotic habitats and associated biological communities are most vulnerable to climate and land-use changes. Our approach will address the following questions: Primary Questions and Objectives: 1. Where are the aquatic habitats in need of conservation as climate changes and causes unanticipated changes in the environment? 2. What are the nationwide aquatic habitat alterations from projected climate and land-use changes across? 3. What are the commonalities and differences in the effects of climate and land-use changes across regions and scales?