A Decision Support Mapper for Conservation of Stream Fish Habitats of the Northeast Climate Science Center Region
- 1) Characterize current condition of stream fish habitats throughout the NE CSC region based on responses of target fish species to a diverse set of landscape-scale disturbances.
- 2) Identify stream reaches predicted to change with climate and likely to change distributions of target fish species throughout the region.
- 3) Develop a spatially-explicit web-based decision support viewer showing measures of current landscape condition along with estimates of changes in habitat that may occur with changes in climate.
Changes in climate are anticipated to lead to additional changes in stream habitats and the fish assemblages they support via multiple pathways, including changing stream thermal regimes. Accounting for current condition of and future changes in streams and understanding specific mechanisms by which streams are or may become impaired are essential for managing and conserving stream fishes and their habitats. To effectively manage streams of the NE CSC from current impacts and future threats, managers require region-wide information to aid in decision-making and implementation of proactive management strategies. Ideally, this information should identify current condition of stream habitats based on specific disturbances that limit stream fishes, future conditions that could result from changes in climate, and where possible, specific mechanisms (including changes in water temperature) by which streams may change with climate. With such information presented in an integrated, spatially-continuous, and scalable format for the entire NE CSC region, managers can more effectively conserve, protect, and restore stream fish and their habitats. Our project will meet that need by integrating results of a current condition assessment of stream habitats that accounts for fish response to human land use, water quality impairment, and fragmentation by dams with estimates of future stream habitats that may change with climate. Tailored current and future condition assessments for target species will be available for all stream reaches in the U.S. portion of the NE CSC via a web-based viewer.