You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Restoration of freshwater biodiversity important for maintaining healthy salmon fisheries

Photo of A caddisfly—freshwater prey for Chinook salmon. A caddisfly—freshwater prey for Chinook salmon. Snapshot : Streams with greater biodiversity appear more resilient to environmental change compared to streams with lower biodiversity. The value of protecting or restoring biodiversity in streams used by salmon can be quantified as economic benefits to the commercial fishing industry.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bellmore, J. Ryan 
Research Location : Alaska; Washington; Oregon
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1412


Biodiversity plays a key role in ecological processes and the delivery of ecosystem services. Most of the central issues facing conservation involve understanding the effects of economic activity on biodiversity and ecosystems. Economic valuation is increasingly being recognized as an indispensable tool to target biodiversity protection under scarce budgets and to determine damages for losses of biodiversity. An international team of scientists, included Ryan Bellmore with the USDA Forest Service, created a step-wise method for quantifying the economic benefits of species diversity. The scientists tested their method by estimating the relationship between the gross economic value of Chinook salmon and the diversity of freshwater macroinvertebrates in streams where juvenile salmon rear before going to the ocean. Using a dynamic modeling framework, their simulations indicate that lower macroinvertebrate diversity—less prey—resulted in less-successful juveniles, and thus, fewer adult Chinook salmon available to be caught in commercial fisheries. Their results suggest that ecosystems with higher macroinvertebrate diversity may be more resilient to changes in the environment that could trigger local extinctions, compared to ecosystems with already low diversity. If aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity is lost, it could lead to significant economic consequences for the salmon fishing industry.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Hasselt University, Belgium
  • U.S. Geological Survey