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Decision Support Tool to Assess Aquatic Habitats and Threats in North Atlantic Watersheds and Estuaries

tool to assess aquatic habitats and threats in NA watersheds and estuaries

Through a stakeholder-driven process, the project team developed a multi-criteria decision support tool to allow resource managers to visualize and manipulate information on aquatic habitats and threats to prioritize areas for conservation action.

Fishery and aquatic scientists often assess habitats to understand the distribution, status, threats, and relative abundance of aquatic resources. Due to the spatial nature of habitats and associated temporal changes, using traditional analytical methods is often difficult. This project will develop habitat assessment models and outputs for the NALCC region that are developed based on a stakeholder driven process.  In addition to assessing habitat conditions, GIS decision support tools will be developed and provided to assist with resource planning efforts, at both the regional and site-specific scale. [Tools available at: http://www.fishhabitattool.org/]

Project Summary:

Downstream Strategies (DS) and its partners will create and implement a flexible and dynamic aquatic assessment process with the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC) and its partners.  This approach has been widely accepted by aquatic and fish experts across the country.  DS will assemble data and analyze conditions to understand fish distribution, habitat, and threats to aquatic species across the NALCC region in streams, rivers, and estuaries. We will engage stakeholders throughout all stages of the project to ensure compatibly of results with the specific goals of the NALCC. The central focus of this project will revolve around a flexible modeling process that has been highly refined from similar on-going and completed projects across the country. Multiple models of different species or species groups will be performed and result in expected species distribution maps, as well as identification and quantification of threats and stressors to the species modeled. The DS project team will utilize the spatially-explicit model results to populate a multi-criteria decision support tool (DST) that will integrate the components of each model developed. The DST will provide a highly functional and user-friendly mechanism for resource managers to visualize, rank, and manipulate inputs to prioritize areas for conservation action.

LCC Staff Contact: Scott Schwenk

The online decision support tool for this project was launched in September 2015 and is available at: http://www.fishhabitattool.org/ . Extensive roll-out of the tool began in February 2016 (see also news announcement by LCC and March 1 news announcement by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region).

  • Habitat models for brook trout in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, based on both current conditions and future climate change scenarios, have been completed. A summary report and technical report for brook trout also have been completed (links below).
  • A framework for estuarine fish habitat assessment, including winter flounder case studies for Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound, have been completed (link to report below).
  • The web-based decision support tool has been completed for brook trout in Chesapeake Bay and for winter flounder in Long Island Sound and Narragansett Bay (RI). An assessment by The Nature Conservancy on river herring habitat, which compiled and analyzed river herring data for the Atlantic coast, has also been incorporated into the web-based decision support tool. Additional review of the TNC assessment is planned.

View public working documents here.

The Request for Proposals that led to selection of this project can be viewed here.

The original project Statement of Work can be viewed here and the revised Statement of Work can be viewed here.

Presentations:

In December 2014, Todd Petty presented on stream habitat conditions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed through the eyes of brook trout. The video can be seen on the IAN website or YouTube

In July 2013, Fritz Boettner presented on the framework for his project, including development of a decision support tool and habitat assessment models. The video is available from the Appalachian LCC website.

In June 2013, Downstream Strategies presented "Habitat Assessment Models and Decision Support Tools for Aquatic Habitats" at the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership (ACFHP) meeting. Download the slides here.

In March 2013, Fritz Boettner presented the aquatic models and decision support tools project for the Integrating Stream Science meeting. Download the slides here.

Quarterly Reports

2015 July-Sept. Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2015 April-June Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2015 Jan.-March Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2014 Oct.-Dec. Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2014 July-Sept. Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2014 April-June Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2014 Jan.-March Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2013 Oct.-Dec. Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2013 July-Sept. Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2013 April-June Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool
2013 Jan.-March Quarterly Report - Aquatic Decision Support Tool

NALCC Funding: $250,000

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