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Fish Habitat Decision Support Tool

Combining spatial data with information from multiple assessments of fish habitat, this tool helps resource managers identify restoration projects that will support populations of aquatic species in the face of threats from climate change and development. Users can establish and rank conservation priorities, predict how species will fare under various management scenarios, and evaluate long-term conservation benefits for Eastern brook trout and associated species at multiple scales in multiple regions, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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Fish Habitat Decision Support Tool website 

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Technical description

Fishery and aquatic scientists often assess habitats to understand the distribution, status, threats, and relative abundance of aquatic resources. Due to the spatial nature of habitats and associated temporal changes, using traditional analytical methods is often difficult. This project developed habitat assessment models and outputs for the North Atlantic LCC region that were developed based on a stakeholder driven process.  In addition to assessing habitat conditions, GIS decision support tools were developed to assist with resource planning efforts, at both the regional and site-specific scale.

Project components: 

  • Habitat models for brook trout in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, based on both current conditions and future climate change scenarios, have been completed. A summary report and technical report for brook trout also have been completed
  • A framework for estuarine fish habitat assessment, including winter flounder case studies for Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound.
  • Web-based decision support tool for brook trout in Chesapeake Bay with three modules.

The three modules include:

  1. Visualization tool to measure natural and human factors that influence brook trout occurrence at multiple scales
  2. User-defined ranking criteria for identifying priority areas
  3. Scenario-analysis modeling the context of future climate regimes

Case Studies and News Stories

"Science in the Stream" - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region Conserving the Nature of the Northeast blog

"Finding sweet spots for brook trout in the Chesapeake Bay watershed" - North Atlantic LCC news

Project Contact(s):

, Professor of Aquatic Science at West Virginia University 

LCC Staff Contact(s):

, Science Coordinator

Fish Habitat Decision Support Tool
Product Type(s):
Decision Support Tools
Interactive tools and models
Resource Type: Fish
Conservation Targets: Coastal and Marine, Freshwater aquatic
Conservation Framework: Biological Planning, Assumption-based Research
Threats/Stressors: Climate change impacts, Development/Urban Growth, Energy Development, Invasives, Diseases, Pathogens, Sea-level rise and storm impacts, Water quality and supply
Conservation Action: Site/area protection, Site/area management, Habitat and natural process restoration, Species management, Species recovery

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