The study says 60 out of 68 U.S. species, or 88 percent of fish species found exclusively in large-river ecosystems like the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers, are of state, federal or international conservation concern. The report is in the April issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
On the other hand, says lead author Brenda Pracheil, a postdoctoral researcher in the UW’s Center for Limnology, the study offers some good news, too.
Traditionally, the conservation emphasis has been on restoring original habitat. This task proves impossible for ecosystems like the main trunk of the Mississippi River — the nation’s shipping, power production, and flood control backbone. While the locks, dams and levees that make the Mississippi a mighty economic force have destroyed fish habitat by blocking off migration pathways and changing annual flood cycles species need to spawn, removing them is not a realistic conservation option.
But, says Pracheil, we’re underestimating the importance of tributaries. Her study found that, for large-river specialist fish, it’s not all or nothing. Some rivers are just big enough to be a haven.
For any river in the Mississippi Basin with a flow rate of less than 166 cubic meters of water per second, virtually no large-river specialist fishes are present. But in any river that even slightly exceeds that rate, 80 percent or more of the large-river species call it home.
That means Mississippi tributaries about the size of the Wisconsin River and larger are providing crucial habitat for large-river fishes. When coupled with current efforts in the large rivers themselves, these rivers may present important opportunities for saving species.
“Talk to any large-river fish biologist, and they will tell you how important tributaries are to big river fish," says Pracheil. "But, until now, we’ve not really understood which rivers are most important. Our study tackles that and shows which tributaries in the Mississippi River Basin show the most promise for conservation of large-river fishes.”
Current policies governing large river restoration projects are funded largely through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which requires that funds be spent on mainstems — or the big rivers themselves. Pracheil's study suggests spending some of that money on tributary restoration projects might do more conservation good for fish, while also letting agencies get more bang for their habitat restoration buck.
“Tributaries may be one of our last chances to preserve large-river fish habitat,” Pracheil says. “Even though the dam building era is all but over in this country, it’s just starting on rivers like the Mekong and Amazon — places that are hotspots for freshwater fish diversity. While tributaries cannot offer a one-to-one replacement of main river habitats, our work suggests that [they] provide important refuges for large-river fishes and that both main rivers and their tributaries should be considered in conservation plans.”
Brenda Pracheil, 402-613-0315, email@example.com
Brenda Pracheil | Newswise
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.06.2017 | Information Technology