Science Center Objects

The health of freshwater fish populations is tied closely to competing demands and uses for this resource. Patuxent scientists are applying mark-recapture science and other methods developed for the adapative management of waterfowl to help manage freshwater fish and their habitats.

Measuring water velocities during historic low-flows

Measuring water velocities during historic low-flows, Middle Oconee River near Athens, GA. (Public domain.)

 

Quantifying Effects of Flow Variability on Riverine Biota

Ecologists have shown that many ecological processes in rivers, including organism growth, reproduction, survival and dispersal, are attuned to natural patterns of streamflow variability.  However, to predict how riverine biota will respond to flow alteration caused by, for example, water diversions and dam operations, ecologists need to understand the mechanisms through which changes in streamflow affect plant and animal populations.  Therefore, we are conducting field studies and analyses to test hypothesized effects of streamflow variability on population (survival, reproduction, extirpation, colonization) and trophic (primary production and consumption) dynamics.

 

 

 

Scientist collecting stream data

(Public domain.)

 

WaterSMART: Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/ Flint River (ACF) Basin

The DOI WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) initiative is developing data and tools to help water managers identify current and future water shortages, for humans and for freshwater ecosystems. Fishes, for example, can decline in diversity and abundance when streamflow becomes too low, for too long.  However, ecologists find that effects of declining streamflow can vary depending on stream characteristics and on traits of local species, confounding predictions of ecological outcomes.  Scientists thus need data on ecological responses to low streamflow in differing physical and biological contexts to better inform water management decisions.

 

 

Image: Endangered Humpback Chub

U.S. Geological Survey scientists estimate that the adult population of humpback chub (Gila cypha) in the Grand Canyon increased 50 percent between 2001 and 2008. (Credit: No name provided, Arizona Game and Fish Department. Public domain.)

 

 

 

Adaptive Management for Threatened and Endangered Species

Threatened and endangered species have to be managed in the face of uncertainty, but traditionally, there has been reluctance to think about adaptive management of listed species. Management agencies with responsibility for threatened and endangered species need tools to help manage in the face of uncertainty, with the hope of reducing that uncertainty.