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

Kansas Project

CNH: Coupled Climate, Cultivation and Culture in the Great Plains: Understanding Water Supply and Water Quality in a Fragile Landscape.

August 2013 - May 2019


Participating Agencies

  • National Science Foundation

Humans adversely impact aquatic resources through land use, water removal, dam building, and altered biodiversity. In this research, we developed a coupled human-landscape model that incorporates the linkages and feedbacks among atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic, and social processes to predict the potential impact of climate variability, climate change, land use, and human activity on water resources. This component of the project addresses both how fish communities are affected by natural and anthropogenic drivers, as well as, how these biotic effects interact with social science drivers and policy options. This research matters because without considering both natural and human systems, environmental professionals will never be able to attain sustainable resource conservation plans. The partners for the fish component of this research were the National Science Foundation (CNH) and Ecological Services Division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. This research informs decisions. Specifically, our aquatic ecology results showed that drivers of watershed scale fish biodiversity vary regionally. Urbanization reduced fish biodiversity in the lower river. Disturbed conditions (low grassland, low flow) associated with a reduction in the desired historical condition (high grassland, high mean flow) reduced fish biodiversity in the middle and upper regions of the watershed. In the integrated model, these results were linked to policies that protect land and water resources. This project has high impact because successful conservation demands that natural patterns of biodiversity and human behavior be considered together, as we do in this project.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Lehrter, R. 2018. Large-Scale Drivers of Fish Biodiversity Differ Across An Environmentally-Variable Watershed. MS. Thesis, Kansas State University March 2018