MSU team honored for work to save fish habitat

Michigan fish habitat

April 25, 2011

A collaborative team of researchers from Michigan State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was honored for their work to protect, enhance and restore fish habitat in both freshwater and marine systems of the United States.

The MSU Inland Assessment Team received the 2011 Scientific Achievement Award in Support of Fish Habitat Conservation from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) Board. The MSU group is led by Dana Infante, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife.

The NFHAP Board is a group of the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation. It honored leaders in aquatic resources conservation at the Third Annual National Fish Habitat Awards ceremony on April 15 at the Jim Range National Casting Call in Washington, D.C., hosted by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

From nominations submitted by the hundreds of organizations that comprise the National Fish Habitat Partners Coalition and Fish Habitat Partnerships, award recipients have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to fish habitat conservation, science and education to help resolve the nation’s most significant fisheries problems.

One of NFHAP’s objectives included performing a nationwide, landscape-scale assessment to evaluate the degree to which processes that influence fish habitats may be affected (connectivity, hydrology, water quality, material transport, energy flow, and geomorphology).

The NFHAP’s National Fish Habitat Assessment (Through a Fish's Eye) was completed between 2008 and 2011 and is now available at This initial report has information and the condition scores for systems in all 50 states. The inland information is the most complete and robustly defined, as it used fish community measures to calibrate system response to landscape-scale disturbances.

MSU members of the Inland Assessment Team are: Peter Esselman, post-doctoral researcher; William Taylor, University Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries Sustainability; Arthur Cooper, fisheries and wildlife graduate student and GIS specialist; Ralph Tingley, fisheries and wildlife graduate student; Daniel Wieferich, researcher technologist and GIS specialist; Jacqueline Fenner, fisheries and wildlife graduate student; Darren Thornburgh, fisheries and wildlife doctoral student; Jared Ross, fisheries and wildlife graduate student; and Infante. Lizhu Wang, director of the Institute for Fisheries Research at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, is also a team member.

The National Fish Habitat Assessment was completed through collaborations between multiple groups. The United States assessments were completed by the MSU Inland Assessment Team. A team from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Ocean Service completed the estuarine portion of the assessment. These partners have brought all of these data together for the first time to produce a composite picture. With the initial national assessment completed, a stepping stone is in place so that NFHAP partners can continue to work together in progressing toward future goals and objectives, as they seek to improve natural resources management and conservation at both the regional and national scales.


Sue Nichols
Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability
(517) 432-0206