Assessing Condition of Freshwater Habitats Using a Landscape Approach: Improving Opportunities for Conserving Inland Fisheries Over Large Regions,

Assessing Condition of Freshwater Habitats Using a Landscape Approach: Improving Opportunities for Conserving Inland Fisheries Over Large Regions,

Dana M. Infante & William W. Taylor

Efforts to conserve and manage freshwater habitats from current and future threats depend on the ability to characterize the natural potential of systems for supporting fisheries of interest, to identify anthropogenic stressors to habitats, and to prioritize and apply effective strategies to achieve fisheries management objectives. Increasingly, such assessments are conducted over large regions, including freshwater habitats of entire countries or even continents, offering new insights into condition of habitats and conservation opportunities. The basis for such large-scale assessments depends on a landscape approach, which asserts that natural and anthropogenic landscape factors of regions drained by freshwater systems can influence habitats and the fisheries they support. Such work has been facilitated with greater availability of remotely-sensed information and through advancements in GIS and database technologies, and they are increasingly viewed as effective management tools, even when site-specific data may be limited. This presentation describes one ongoing effort to assess river habitats of the conterminous United States using a landscape approach and highlights how mangers are using assessment results to more effectively conserve fluvial fisheries. Besides demonstrating the application of this approach, this presentation describes the potential for conducting similar work in other regions, underscoring how a landscape approach can aid in conservation of freshwater fisheries globally.

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