Knowledge of fish distribution in BC has evolved since McPhail & Carveth (1993) first described fish distribution and provincial fish communities using eight zoogeographic regions (subsequently defined in GIS, Porter 2004). Since that time, the province?s fish occurrence databases have been used to develop empirical models to predict distributions for 37 fish species (Porter & Frid 2004; Porter & Nelitz. 2006). These models are currently being used by the BC MOE to assist in identifying Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds (FSWs) that require additional conservation and management. A limitation of these models, however, is that they only predict fish occurrences for 3rd order watershed polygons. In addition, they do not assess the relative quality of habitats across streams or reaches.
This proposal intends to employ recent improvements to the intelligence of the province?s Watershed Atlas stream linework and newly developed provincial fish datasets to develop improved models for predicting the distribution and abundance of key fish species at finer spatial scales. The goal of this work is to improve fish distribution models and quantify species specific habitat quality in order to assist planning of forestry activities and optimize associated field inventories.
To achieve this goal, we propose the following work plan: (1) Hold model design meetings, conduct preliminary design, and elicit feedback. Several project team meetings will be convened to develop a detailed approach to improved fish habitat modelling. Background research, internal team discussions and consultation with MOE fisheries researchers will focus on identifying: (1)a pilot study area, (2)fish species of interest (salmon, trout and char would be an expected focus), (3)critical habitat features to distinguish relative habitat values and (4)habitat features that could be calculated using available data. Reach-scale indicators would be prioritized based on their scientific defensibility, feasibility and spatial extent. A detailed description of the model design will be sent to external fish habitat experts for peer review [Deliverable 1]. (2) Calculate reach-scale indicators. Based on the priorities from Task 1, selected reach-scale indicators will be calculated within the study area for relevant species. Where data are available and calculations are feasible, a GIS-based network analysis will be used to calculate reach-scale indicators such as: (1)stream thermal regime (using results from FSP project Y07-1057), (2)accessibility of habitats (based on consideration of barriers and gradients), (3)stream width (based on hydraulic geometry relations reported by Simons & Albertson), (4)stream gradient (surrogate for channel morphology), (5)connectivity to areas with know fish (based on fish sampling) and (6)water quality parameters (pH, TDS). (3) Complete statistical analysis of relationships between fish observations and reach-scale habitat features. Fish occurrences will be extracted from the province?s fish datasets. Using the reach-scale indicators from Task 2, and provincial fish observations, we will develop empirical models to identify reach-scale variables that best explain distribution of species within stream networks using classification and regression tree approaches (Boyce & McDonald 1999; Guisan & Zimmerman 2000; Guisan et al. 2002). (4) Develop rules-based system for describing relative habitat value. Using reach-scale variables and fish occurrences identified in Task 3 in conjunction with existing datasets on fish abundance (e.g., FDIS) we will then develop a rules-based system for ranking the habitat value of stream segments for each fish species of interest. Expert opinions may also be used to characterize relative value of habitat features in these streams. (5) Determine relative habitat value of stream segments. Using reach-scale indicators calculated for each stream segment in Task 2 and rules based system from Task 4, we would combine this info ...
Porter, Marc, Pickard, Darcy; Wieckowski, Katherine; Bryan, Katy. 2008. Developing Fish Habitat Models for Broad-Scale Forest Planning in the BC Southern Interior. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2008MR090
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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