We propose a regional assessment of aquatic species vulnerabilities and responses to climate change as the basis for adaptive management for aquatic ecosystems in the Great Northern LCC, using the Transboundary Flathead Ecosystem as a case example. This region encompasses a complex mix of federal, state, tribal, and private lands in the US and federal, provincial and private lands in Canada. The complex suite of ownerships, international relations, and agency objectives establish their own set of challenges; however, all will experience a similar range of climatic (e.g., long-term drought and declining snow pack) and non-climatic (e.g., habitat fragmentation, shifting land- and water use patterns, and invasive species) changes requiring coordinated management and planning.
FY2010Objectives: 1. 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 2. 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 3. Assess the physiological thresholds (e.g., temperature tolerances) and responses of aquatic organisms (fish and key-indicator macroinvertebrates) using controlled laboratory experiments 4. 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.
- Conduct vulnerability assessments of native salmonids and stream invertebrates
- Link Remote Sensing Data of Fluvial Habitat to Hydrologic and Geomorphic Change Analyses
- Develop an Aquatics Adaptation Plan for the Transboundary Flathead