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Montana Ecological Services Field Office

585 Shepard Way, Suite 1 • Helena, Montana 59601 • 406-449-5225 • (FAX) 406-449-5339



Fisheries Applied Research and Technical Assistance


Helena Field Office


Climate change and native fish management in western North America

The US Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) has recently funded scientists at USGS, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado State University, and Trout Unlimited to study the potential impacts of a warming climate on fish and aquatic resources in western North America.   Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Kershner (Principal Investigator), USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, we will identify populations and habitats of “at risk” inland native salmonids so managers can proactively develop and implement conservation and restoration measures to protect critical populations and habitats.  The geographic focus of this project is the Northern Rocky Mountains and links to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Strategic Habitat Conservation planning and Landscape Conservation Cooperative effort in that area.

TASKS (2009-2011)

1.      Produce and compile high‐resolution climate data sets based on regional climate models

2.      Develop hydrologic, thermal, and geomorphic models to downscale climate effects to stream habitats

3.      Develop biological models that predict salmonid population attributes from stream habitat

4.      Assess the potential effects of climate change on stream habitats and trout species

5.      Develop decision support tool to integrate future changes, provide risk assessments, and prioritize management options.



Climate datasets and species distribution models will be used by resource managers dealing with aquatic systems, including the USGS, FWS, USFS, BLM, state management agencies, and private organizations that are working to conserve and protect “at risk” salmonids.  Workshops will be used to present species-specific, portable decision support tools (Bayesian Belief Neworks or Bayes nets) to managers and provide hands‐on training.

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Updated 9/8/09