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Wednesday, January 27 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Evaluating Contemporary and Future Risks To Habitats Of Michigan’s Vulnerable Stream and Inland Lake Fishes

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AUTHORS: Arthur R. Cooper*, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; Kevin E. Wehrly, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and University of Michigan; Ken Yi, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: Historic and contemporary human disturbances are a key driver of species loss and imperilment for many freshwater organisms, and coupled with climate change, increasing water demands, and continued landscape development, create an uncertain future for many species. In support of the State of Michigan’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan, we assessed the vulnerability of fish species of greatest conservation need to current and future environmental threats. We first developed habitat suitability models for 27 stream fishes and 10 lake fishes (with an overlap of 6 species) with MaxEnt. Highly suitable habitats identified from these habitat suitability models were then used to examine vulnerability to habitat fragmentation and anthropogenic landscape disturbances, and future habitat suitability under climate change. Analysis of connectivity among highly suitable habitats indicates that large dams are playing a primary role in connectivity loss for the vast majority of both stream and lake fishes relative to small dams and waterfalls. On average, nearly 46% of highly suitable stream habitats and 57% of highly suitable lake habitats were considered moderately to severely disturbed. Comparison of current habitat suitability with habitat suitability projections under climate change show potential gains for warmwater and/or large river fishes due to increased water temperatures and stream flow, however these gains are subject to both biogeographic limitations and connectivity constraints imposed by barriers among current and future habitats. Conversely, stream fishes that are predominately coolwater and coldwater in thermal preference are projected to lose highly suitable habitats under climate change. Climate change projections for lake fishes were highly influenced by biogeography and connectivity, with all species projected to sustain losses in highly suitable habitat. Consideration of multiple threats to fish habitats, both contemporary and future, is needed to provide information vital to ongoing fish conservation efforts.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Grandview A