Predicting Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Ecosystems in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem: Combining Vulnerability Assessments, Landscape Connectivity, and Modeling for Conservation and Adaptation

FY2014

Objectives:

  1. Conduct vulnerability assessments of native salmonids and stream invertebrates
  2. Linking Remote Sensing Data of Fluvial Habitat to Hydrologic and Geomorphic Change Analyses:
  3. Develop an Aquatics Adaptation Plan for the Transboundary Flathead

Deliverables:

  • High resolution climate data sets produced by our regional climate models
  • High resolution (<1m) habitat classification and analysis of selected and representative stream reaches
  • Fine scale species distribution modeling with supportive data with scenarios for agency conservation strategies and conservation efforts
  • Physiological responses of aquatic organisms to changes in flow and temperature
  • Vulnerability assessments for bull trout and cutthroat trout in the Transboundary Flathead
  • Development of a daily stream temperature model for the CCE
  • Link habitat assessments with NetMap
  • Completion of an Adaptation Strategy for the Transboundary Flathead
  • Data sharing in the GNLCC [Data will be made available to resource managers dealing with aquatic systems, including the Crown Managers Partnership, USGS, FWS, USFS, BLM, provincial, state management agencies, and private organizations (e.g., Trout Unlimited, Nature Conservancy)
  • Workshops to present the results and decision support tools to managers and provide hands‐on training
  • Multiple peer reviewed publications of the study

FY2013

Objective:

  • Develop and implement an adaptation plan for the Transboundary Flathead Aquatic Ecosystem (Canada and USA) to identify conservation delivery options in response to climate change and other important cumulative stressors (e.g., habitat degradation and fragmentation, and invasive species).

Deliverables:

  1. Vulnerability assessments for bull trout and cutthroat trout in the Transboundary Flathead (FY2012-13)
  2. Completion of an Adaptation Strategy for the Transboundary Flathead (FY2014)
  3. Workshops to present the results and decision support tools to managers and provide hands‐on training (FY2012-14)

FY2010-2012

Objectives:

  • Develop vulnerability assessments for stream macroinvertebrates in the Transboundary Flathead and WGIPP system, which will produce spatially-explicit distribution and abundance models coupled with climate projections and response variables of aquatic biota at multiple trophic levels in the food web
  • Apply new and existing techniques for combining downscaled, regionalized climate models to spatially explicit habitat data. These will be coupled to population genetic data to monitor and predict effects of climate change on connectivity, gene flow, and persistence for bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, and rare macroinvertebrate populations
  • Assess the physiological thresholds (e.g., temperature tolerances) and responses of aquatic organisms (fish and key-indicator macroinvertebrates) using controlled laboratory experiments
  • Develop detailed, spatially explicit hydrogeomorphic, thermal and habitat models of critical stream and riparian habitats of the North Fork river corridor using airborne remote sensing tools. These products, from headwater tributaries to the valley-bottom corridor and floodplains where much of the connectivity and response to variation in thermal and hydrologic regimes will be played out, will couple directly to the vulnerability assessments of Objective 1, the connectivity models of Objective 2 and the thermal and flow tolerance assessments of Objective 3

Deliverables (due date):

  1. High resolution climate data sets produced by our regional climate models (2011)
  2. High resolution (<1m) habitat classification and analysis of selected and representative stream reaches, from alpine to valley floor) (2012–14)
  3. Fine scale species distribution modeling with supportive data with scenarios for agency conservation strategies and conservation efforts (2011)
  4. Physiological responses of aquatic organisms to changes in flow and temperature (2011–14)
  5. Data sharing in the GNLCC [Data will be made available to resource managers dealing with aquatic systems, including the Crown Managers Partnership, USGS, FWS, USFS, BLM, state management agencies, and private organizations (e.g., Trout Unlimited)] (2011–14)
  6. Species-specific decision support tools (Bayes nets) will be made available from the USGS fish-climate project that will incorporate our results. These will be portable, and designed to permit fish managers to quickly and efficiently assess extinction risk and the outcome of management actions. (2012)
  7. Workshops to present the results and decision support tools to managers and provide hands-on training (2012–14)
  8. Multiple peer reviewed publication(s) of the study (2011–14)

 Resources

Affiliation: 
US Geological Survey
Fiscal Year: 
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Project Lead: 
Muhlfeld, Clint
Funding Allocation: 
FY2014 $75,000; FY2013 $129,000; FY2012 $150,000; FY2011 $120,000; FY2010 $142,000