Claire C Mcgrath
322 East Front Street, Suite 401
Boise, ID 83702
Contact Claire C Mcgrath
1. Effects of reservoir operations and river regulation on aquatic ecosystems, including interactions between algae, invertebrates, and fish. 2. Statistical validation of redd count methods, development of sightability models, and recommendations for improved redd monitoring protocols.3. Simulation model describing effects of data quality on error in status assessment for salmon and steelhead in the Interior Columbia basin.4. Synthesis of fire effects on aquatic ecosystem.5. Stable isotope methods development.
I am a limnologist with research interests in aquatic foodwebs, ecosystem processes, community ecology, fisheries, and resource management. I pursue two main areas of interest in my work at RMRS. In the first area, I examine how specific monitoring protocols for listed salmonids relate to data quality, and in turn, how data quality affects resource management and policy decisions. My second area of interest is in describing the functional roles of organisms in aquatic ecosystems, and the effects of disturbance on aquatic foodwebs and ecosystem-level processes.
Research that examines the utility and validity of monitoring data is important because natural resource agencies rely on these data for making critical management and policy decisions. In many cases, uncertainty associated with monitoring data is not known, even though this uncertainty translates into uncertainty in our ability to make correct management decisions. Improving the efficiency of monitoring programs will help natural resource managers make better use of the limited funds available for natural resource management. Research that describes the effects of disturbance on aquatic ecosystems is useful both for improving our understanding of the basic ecology of natural systems, as well as for devising ways to alleviate the negative effects of environmental disturbances. Regulatory agencies need information on the impacts of both natural and anthropogenic disturbances to guide decisions about how we use natural resources and public lands, and to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration.
Why This Research is Important
1. Columbia Basin Collaborative, Systemwide Monitoring and Evaluation Project. Reviewed existing salmonid monitoring programs; designed improved monitoring protocols; and assisted with development of regional databases for salmonids in the Columbia River basin. Described effects of uncertainty in monitoring data on fisheries management and decision risk. 2. Trophic roles of greenback cutthroat trout and brook trout in montane streams. Conducted fish population and habitat surveys, described trophic interactions using stable isotope and gut content analysis, trained and supervised assistants.3. Methods development for stable isotope studies, including improving estimates of trophic fractionation between algae, invertebrates, and fish, and developing system-specific equations for estimating carbon source and trophic position for consumers.4. Developed novel enzyme assays to investigate cellulose breakdown by freshwater macroinvertebrates.
- Oberlin College, BA Biology, 1993
- Western Washington University, MS Environmental Science, 1998
- University of Colorado, Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2004
Featured Publications & Products
- McGrath, Claire C. 2006. A rule made to be broken: Research and education in Rocky Mountain National Park.