Trout Populations Benefit From Novel Model That Examines Fragmented Habitat
Loss of habitat connectivity in stream networks can create problems for the persistence of valuable populations of aquatic animals. Forest Service researchers used a spatially explicit, individual-based model of a stream network to examine habitat fragmentation effects on the persistence of trout population. The results provide a framework for, and illustrate the value of, prioritizing efforts to restore the connectivity of stream networks.
Resource managers need tools to identify and prioritize actions. Although substantial resources are being spent on restoring connectivity of stream networks, it is clear that better priority setting would increase the efficiency of the effort. Using a spatially explicit model of a northwestern California watershed, the researchers established a framework to better understand the effects of barriers on fish populations and identify those barriers with the greatest effect on population size and persistence.
The novel modeling approach has been used to address a variety of key management issues, including cumulative effects analysis, the effects of streamflow diversions on fish populations, prediction of habitat restoration outcomes, and the effects of water quality on fish populations.