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PLEASE NOTE: The schedule posted here is as of 1/25/16, and is subject to change. Please check back for updates.
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Monday, January 25 • 11:00am - 11:20am
Optimizing Barrier Removals In The Great Lakes Basin: Accounting For Native and Invasive Species

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AUTHORS: Allison T. Moody*, University of Wisconsin; Thomas M. Neeson, University of Wisconsin; Matthew W. Diebel, Wisconsin DNR; Patrick J. Doran, The Nature Conservancy; Michael Ferris, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University of Wisconsin; Jesse O'Hanley, University of Kent; Peter B. McIntyre, University of Wisconsin

ABSTRACT: In river networks, dams and road crossings often fragment habitat and impede fish migrations. Because removing these barriers is a costly process and resources are limited, decision support tools are needed to guide prioritization of potential projects. However, while removal or modification can improve habitat connectivity for native fishes, it can also increase available habitat for invasive species. As a result, decisions about barrier removals or upgrades must account for trade-offs between benefits for native species and costs associated with enabling the spread of invasive species. We developed an optimization model for barrier removals in the Great Lakes basin and an associated online decision support tool designed for agency and NGO staff. The prioritization model weighs the estimated cost of replacing each dam or culvert against the length of upstream channel gained for native fish species, but constrains barrier selection by capping the expected production of invasive sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). Thus, the model identifies a portfolio of projects that maximizes habitat gains for a given budget and delineates the trade-offs between native and invasive species. Preliminary return-on-investment curves suggest that there are locations where barrier removals can be expected to substantially increase habitat available to native migratory fishes with minimal expansion of lamprey breeding habitat. In other locations, barrier removals would likely substantially increase the amount of accessible sea lamprey habitat. We will discuss the sensitivity of the model to uncertainty in our estimates of the suitability of tributaries for native and invasive species. This decision support tool will be a valuable resource for organizations wanting to prioritize projects across the Great Lakes Basin and also for watershed-centered groups who work at a local level.

Monday January 25, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am EST