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Estuarine Fish Habitat Assessment and Winter Flounder Pilot Study

As part of a suite of aquatic habitat assessments and tools designed to support conservation efforts in the Northeast region, the environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies developed predictive models for estuarine habitat in Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound, using winter flounder as the focal species to pilot the approach. This study describes the development of a flexible modeling process that can help scientists better understand the distribution, status, threats, and relative abundance of resources in dynamic aquatic habitats.

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Estuarine Fish Habitat Assessment: A General Framework and Winter Flounder Pilot Studies

Additional Resources

Fish Habitat Decision Support Tool website 

A similar analysis process was used to conduct an assessment of Chesapeake Bay Watershed Brook Trout Habitat and Climate Change Vulnerability. Go to the product page.

Technical description

This document describes the process used to create a modeling framework for these assessments, details of the habitat assessments, and a discussion of the lessons learned that may aid future similar efforts. We created models with predictive accuracy similar to other estuarine predictive habitat models. We also found that the relationships between habitat and winter flounder described by our predictive models were  generally corroborated by previous literature. We also note the limitations of each model and suggest possibilities for overcoming these in future efforts.

The data and modeling results from this assessment were incorporated into a web-based decision support tool. This tool enables users to visualize and download data and model outputs and establish conservation priorities based on user-defined ranking criteria. Combined, the modeling results contained within this report along with the publically accessible web application will improve public awareness of conditions of the modeled estuaries and empower resource managers to implement scientifically-defensible conservation actions. 

Project Contact(s):

, Downstream Strategies

LCC Staff Contact(s):

Scott Schwenk, Science Coordinator

Estuarine Fish Habitat Assessment and Winter Flounder Pilot Study
Product Type(s):
Assessments and Research Results
Decision Support Tools
Interactive tools and models
Resource Type: Fish
Conservation Targets: Coastal and Marine, Freshwater aquatic
Conservation Framework: Assumption-based Research
Threats/Stressors: Climate change impacts
Conservation Action: Site/area protection, Site/area management, Habitat and natural process restoration, Species management

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