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Wednesday, February 8 • 8:20am - 8:40am
Technical Session. Indicator Species Can Successfully Guide Restoration Efforts for Migratory Fishes in the Great Lakes

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AUTHORS: Kimberly B. Fitzpatrick, Geography and Environmental Sustainability, University of Oklahoma; Allison T. Moody, Austin Milt - Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin; Matthew W. Diebel, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Matthew Herbert, Mary Khoury, Eugene Yacobson, Patrick J. Doran - The Nature Conservancy; Michael C. Ferris, Computer Science, University of Wisconsin; Peter B. McIntyre, Center for Limnology; Thomas M. Neeson, Geography and Environmental Sustainability, University of Oklahoma

ABSTRACT: Due to a lack of resources, conservation organizations often depend on a small group of species to indicate the presence of other species. Extensive research has gone into methods for selecting these “indicator” species, but few studies have directly measured the performance of indicator species in guiding conservation actions. Here, we evaluated whether a small number of indicator species could be used to select barrier removal projects to benefit the entire migratory fish community in the highly fragmented North American Great Lakes Basin. First, we compiled data on the historical distributions of 36 species of native migratory fishes as well as upstream habitat and removals costs for over 100,000 dams and road culverts. Next we used k-means clusters to identify five groups of co-occurring species and selected an indicator species for each cluster based on within-group co-occurrence. To evaluate the utility of these five indicator species, we compared 1) the habitat gain that each of the 36 native migratory species could achieve if barrier removals were prioritized specifically for the benefit of that species, versus 2) the habitat gain that the 36 species could achieve if barrier removals were prioritized specifically for the benefit of their respective indicator species. We found that under the indicator species prioritization, the majority of species retained over 80% of the habitat gain they saw under their own prioritization. However for a few species, prioritizing for indicator species resulted in very little habitat gain. These underrepresented species tended to have little biologically in common with their respective indicator species, particularly with regard to commonness and temperature preferences. Overall, our findings revealed that indicator species could be a cost-effective means for planning restoration efforts for most species of migratory fishes in the Great Lakes.  

Wednesday February 8, 2017 8:20am - 8:40am
Grand Ballroom A

Attendees (6)