Modeling aquatic habitat suitability and connectivity in Utah rivers

Please categorize the nature of the Source of Support: 
Other Gov
Who is the funding agency?: 
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Amount Requested: 
$106 013.00
Date Submitted: 
Fri, 2018/02/09
Award Amount: 
Salary Support: 
Participants are receiving financial support

Research that tests and validates environmental variables to identify ecologically-meaningful aquatic habitat, but that is simple enough to be completed at the statewide scale is needed to improve aquatic habitat suitability modeling so that managers can quickly and cheaply identify suitable and unsuitable habitats, prioritize restoration dollars, and make scientifically-based decisions. I will synthesize large spatial scale environmental datasets that are recently available from GIS and remotely-sensed data to develop statewide aquatic habitat suitability models for Utah. Starting with streamflow, I will intersect additional stream variables, like stream temperature, channel form, etc, in a spatial database to characterize aquatic habitat for species of interest like Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii utah) and bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus), as well as non-native species such as brown trout (Salmo trutta) and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). I will use habitat thresholds described in the literature. With changes in streamflow, temperature, and aquatic habitat, non-native fish may be moving into habitat now occupied by native species. This research will allow us to understand such changes in species’ distribution to prioritize management decision and allocation of resources to improve aquatic habitat. The habitat suitability models can be easily adapted for warm water species by changing environmental thresholds for species.