National Assessment of the Status of Fish Habitats

The goal of this on-going project is to conduct a nationwide assessment of the status of fish habitats in aquatic systems throughout the United States.  In 2010, my lab completed a current condition assessment for the Nation’s rivers (Figure 1), and we are currently working on improvements for 2015 that include efforts to refine our national assessment scores and to conduct regional work that will better characterize response of fluvial habitat factors to landscape influences.  For more information, refer to the National Fish Habitat Action Plan web site:

Figure1. Habitat condition scores applied to local catchments of  rivers of the conterminous United States (from Esselman, P. C., D. M. Infante, L. Wang, W. W. Taylor, R. W. Tingley III, J. Fenner, A. Cooper, D. Wieferich, D. Thornbrugh, J. Ross. In press. A landscape assessment of fish habitat conditions in United States rivers and their watersheds. Report by the Assessment Team to the Science and Data Committee and Board of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan).


Managing the Nation’s fish habitat at multiple spatial scales in a rapidly changing climate

To effectively plan for changes in climate and land use that may affect aquatic habitats and the organisms they support, managers require the ability to identify which habitats may change with climate as well as insights into specifically how they might change.  To address these needs, my lab is involved in two efforts occurring over different spatial scales.  First, we’re developing a nationally-consistent characterization of stream reach vulnerability to climate and land use changes (preliminary results shown in Figure 2), and second, we’re constructing flow and temperature models for all streams in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to explicitly show how changes in fish species’ distributions may result from altered habitat resulting from future conditions.  This work is part of a larger effort incorporating other regional assessments from across the country, and more details on this work and our team members can be found at:

Figure 2.  Habitat vulnerability assessment based on projected climate change in 2090, shown in percent reach in HUC12 of the conterminous United States(Tsang, Y-P., D. M. Infante, L. Wang, D. Krueger, and D. Wieferich, “A framework for a climate-driven stream ecological classification: Assessing stream habitat vulnerability to changing climate.” In preparation).