Multispecies Conservation: Integrated Approaches to Conservation of Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems: Part II

Ecological systems have been dramatically altered, resulting in degradation of fish and wildlife habitats and declines in native species. Anthropogenic changes continue to occur at scales and rates that systems cannot sustain. Innovative conservation approaches are needed to preserve, restore, and enhance fish and wildlife habitats, while simultaneously supporting human needs. Conceptual frameworks such as Conservation Opportunity Areas, Landscape Conservation Designs, Native Fish Conservation Areas, Aquatic Diversity Management Areas, and others focus on the conservation of fish and wildlife communities at watershed and landscape scales while incorporating life history needs and acknowledging compatible human uses. Analytical approaches can now integrate conservation biology, landscape connectivity, and spatial prioritization principles to provide rigorous, science-based, and spatially explicit information to inform conservation planning and delivery. Innovative planning approaches have yielded multi-agency partnerships and large-scale funding programs focused on operationalizing conservation plans and supporting meaningful and transformative conservation delivery for fish, wildlife, and their habitats. This symposium will highlight these innovative multispecies and landscape-scale approaches to fish and wildlife conservation, profiling case studies from ecological systems throughout the USA and that include diverse partnerships encompassing agencies, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and large geographic conservation partnerships (e.g., fish habitat partnerships, bird joint ventures).

8:00AM Crossing Scale and Ecosystem Boundaries to Better Understand Macroscale Fish Diversity
  Katelyn King, Mary Tate Bremigan, Dana Infante, Kendra Cheruvelil
Stream and lake fishes are important economic and recreational resources that respond to alterations in their surrounding watersheds and serve as indicators of ecological stressors on aquatic ecosystems. Research suggests that fish species diversity is largely influenced by surface water connectivity, or the lack thereof. For example, lake, stream, and wetland connections support fish movement among ecosystems and provide access to refugia, food, habitat, and nesting sites. Connections and alterations that block dispersal and reduce connectivity often occur at fine-scales, but they can also exhibit regional patterns. However, few studies consider multi-scaledfreshwater connections and their effect on both lake and stream fish communities across broad spatial extents. Therefore, this talk examines the 1) macroscale (i.e. regional) patterns of fish species diversity in lakes and streams and 2) the role of multi-scale freshwater connectivity in patterns of fish species diversity. By studying lakes and streams together and explicitly incorporating connectivity among lakes, streams, and wetlands into models, our results inform scientific understanding of what drives variation in fish species diversity at broad spatial scales.
8:20AM Addressing the Potential of a Scale-Linked Conservation Planning Framework for Freshwaters
  Kyle Brumm, Brandon Peoples
Systematic conservation planning methodologies must be adapted to suit the challenges of freshwater ecosystems. Considerable progress has been made in recent years, but the utility of multi-scale planning efforts has received little valuation. Here, we assessed the efficiency of Marxan, a conservation planning tool, in addressing functional and taxonomic diversity targets in a scale-linked approach. In the summer of 2019, we sampled fish assemblages at 60 sites within the Congaree Biosphere Reserve of South Carolina, USA. Species distribution models were developed using boosted regression trees at HUC12 and local catchment spatial scales. Ecological risk surfaces were derived from model parameters, and were incorporated into the analyses as proxies of ecological cost. We evaluated the degree of complementarity between functional and taxonomic diversity surfaces and compared solutions from single- and multi-scale Marxan scenarios. Our results are expected to highlight the scale-dependent nature of ecological stressors and provide a framework for better addressing the hierarchical nature of riverscapes when defining priority networks. Future efforts will integrate macroinvertebrate integrity and salamander diversity layers in a multi-taxon, scale-linked effort.
8:40AM Strategic Planning at a Landscape LEVEL and Its Influence on Conserving Ecological Sytems and Associated Sgcn’S in Texas
  Amie Treuer-Kuehn, Jason Singhurst
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), MoRap and other partners completed a seven year project to map the current status of Texas’ vegetation communities, the “Ecological Mapping Systems of Texas” (EMS-TX). This effort resulted in one of the largest statewide vegetation and abiotic datasets in the US. Strategically applying these data at a landscape level has been identified as a need by government agencies, NGOs and others providing conservation planning on a state or regional scale. Filling this need, TPWD is mapping “Texas Ecological Indices” (TEI), to identify areas where limited resources would make the biggest impact towards restoration or recovery of habitats supporting species of conservation need (SGCN). As well as, provide a tool to avoid ecologically diverse areas. Ecologically significant areas are identified based on scientific knowledge, species data, and the EMS-TX. Many ecological systems have declined or have endured alteration in Texas and partnerships that address preservation and restoration of their associated habitats will be explored. We will indulge on how TEI influences conservation of rare ecological systems and associated SGCN’s and landscape level connectivity and acquisition projects by the Coastal Prairie Partnership, Longleaf Pine Alliance; and Resaca Ecosystems Restoration Project.
9:00AM Conservation Design on Islands – a Hawai’I Perspective
  Jeff Burgett
Current efforts to save forest birds on the island of Kaua’i illustrate development of collaborative conservation in an island context. This initiative will be discussed with reference to key differences from continental settings that affect landscape conservation design in Hawai’i and other Pacific islands. The Hawaiian Islands have undergone ecological transformation and an associated wave of extinction since human settlement, and climate change now exacerbates this. The Anthropocene challenges conservationists to maintain or expand populations of rare species in the face of accelerating changes in climate, ecosystems, and land use. These changes are forcing a reconsideration of historical species distributions as guides for conservation, and requiring a focus on future landscape conditions. On oceanic islands, development of landscape conservation designs that address these realities is affected by islands’ small size, isolation, unique histories, and high proportion of endemic species. Climate projections suggest that shifts of island biomes and the ranges of native and invasive species will be substantial. How and where to restore populations of endemic Hawaiian species in a warming world is a major challenge for State and Federal agencies and the public.
9:20AM Using Native Fish Conservation Areas to Conserve Mahseer Species in Bhutan and Thailand
  Richard Williams, David Philipp, Julie Claussen, Aaron Koning
Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCA) are watersheds where management primarily emphasizes conservation and restoration of native fish and other aquatic species and their habitats, while also managing compatible recreational and commercial uses. The goal of Native Fish Conservation Areas is to sustain the integrity of key aquatic habitats in order to maintain long-term persistence of native aquatic species. NFCAs also provide a mechanism for a collaborative and coordinated approach among multiple partners at a watershed level to accomplish that goal. This approach focuses the knowledge and talents of technical and non-technical partners on waters flowing across public and private lands. A global system of highly visible NFCAs would increase the awareness of the need for conserving native fishes among the public and help communicate the benefits of conserving native aquatic communities. Established Native Fish Conservation Areas in the Little Tennessee River in the eastern U. S. and across Texas in the southwestern United States in North America will be used to demonstrate potential benefits of using an NFCA watershed approach to conserve and manage Mahseer species in Bhutan and Thailand.

Organizers: Meredith Longoria, Daniel Dauwalter, Gary Garrett, Patrick O’Rouke, Timothy Birdsong
Supported by: AFS Fish Habitat Section

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: October 1, 2019 Time: 8:00 am - 9:40 am