Conservation Planning For the Upper Colorado River Basin

Gap Analysis for the Upper Colorado River


  • Identify landscape-level habitat metrics associated with native fish presence in the Upper Colorado River Basin.


This project builds on previous and on-going research we have been conducting on fish communities in the Lower Colorado River Basin.  Aquatic systems across the nation are perhaps the most endangered ecosystems and the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) is no exception.  There are only 14 native fish species in the UCRB and most have declined in their range and abundance in the last 100 years.  Adverse impacts include modifications to natural flow regimes, physical habitat, stream temperatures and other human-induced agents of environmental change, in addition to the negative effects of invasive species.  Therefore, the development of criteria for conservation will aid future considerations to protect aquatic species in the basin. We have compiled a suite of environmental characteristics and threats frequently associated with presence or absence of freshwater fish species.  Federal and state agencies from all the states encompassing the UCRB have contributed nearly 800,000 records of fish sampled from the late 1800's to 2010.  Future work will include developing community distribution models and threat indices to inform spatially explicit conservation prioritization for the UCRB.  This research will provide a seamless integration of both the lower and upper basin to provide a uniform GAP analysis for the entire Colorado River watershed. 


  • Investigator: Landon Pierce (PhD Candidate)
  • Project Supervisors: Dr. Joanna Whittier & Dr. Craig Paukert
  • Funding: US Geological Survey
  • Cooperators: Over 8 partners from state and federal agencies, NGO's, and Universities in the Southwest
  • Location: Upper Colorado River Basin, NM, UT, CO, WY
  • Expected Date of Completion: December 2013