A tool to assess the cumulative impact of barriers and climate change on salmonid populations in rivers (University of Hull PhD project)

Description

In order to make better informed decisions on development or restoration activities manager/planners require a comprehensive understanding of the cumulative effects of agents of change (i.e, climate change, barrier placement) on riverine values (ecological connectivity, fish production, habitat quality). The development of an assessment methodology and structured decision making framework to aid conservation authorities assess the vulnerability of populations and habitats, and to guide efficient implementation of barrier removal or mitigation strategies is key. This paper discusses the development of one such tool. Such a framework will enable development of integrated adaptation strategies, plans, policies and actions over a variety of spatial and temporal scales. The approach is applied under two case studies, one for rivers across the island of Newfoundland and one for the Trent River system in the United Kingdom.

Our project aims to develop a geodatabase of barrier parameters and related data useful towards spatial environment analyses in modelling and decision making. The toolkit shall assess cumulative ecological impacts of climate change and other interacting stressors (i.e., forestry, transport, other human activities) on wild Atlantic salmon population persistence and stock production in boreal forest watersheds. Together these will integrate and provide an assessment and decision making framework and analytical toolset to help in the planning and management of barriers. Ultimately the goal is to reduce individual and cumulative impacts of barriers to salmonids at the regional and watershed level to the greatest extent possible under limited available resources.

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